13 December 2000
Spray tax still on the agenda

By Alistair Driver

THE government is still seriously considering introducing a pesticide tax, environment minister Michael Meacher has told MPs.

The government is keen to ensure that pesticide use does not damage the environment, he told the House of Commons Environment Committee

National Farmers Union president Ben Gill said last month that he had the Prime Ministers personal assurance that no pesticide tax would be implemented.

Mr Gill said: “Ive been told privately by Prime Minister Tony Blair, Michael Meacher and Nick Brown that there will be no pesticide tax.”

But the Department of the Environment is talking about a pesticide tax with Chancellor Gordon Brown, Mr Meacher said on Wednesday (13 December).

“We have not excluded the possibility of a tax if the voluntary approach does not produce the most appropriate results,” Mr Meacher told the committee.

Two sets of proposals for voluntary regulations put forward by the Crop Protection Association were unsatisfactory, Mr Meacher said.

“We asked the CPA to produce their proposals on a voluntary basis. I think it is fair to say that the first set of proposals was rather feeble,” he added.

Mr Meacher said that the association had been asked to consult the relevant industry bodies a second time but again the results were unsatisfactory.

“The second set of proposals was better but still not adequate,” he said.

The Crop Protection Association, which represents agrochemical manufacturers, claims a tax would cost the farming industry 125 million.