UK abandons pesticide taxation plan

Industry proposal for voluntary agreement now to be focus of detailed negotiations

The UK government has dropped plans to introduce a pesticides tax in April's national budget, following lobbying from farmers and industry. The announcement was made by prime minister Tony Blair, addressing British farmers at their annual meeting in London today.

Detailed discussions will now take place on a voluntary agreement to regulate the environmental impact of pesticides, Mr Blair said. Outline proposals were prepared by the British Agrochemicals Association (BAA) after the prospect of pesticide taxes was first floated a year ago (ENDS Daily 25 March 1999). These will "form a useful basis for discussing...a partnership approach," a finance ministry official told ENDS Daily today.

BAA director-general Anne Buckenham said pesticides manufacturers were "delighted" at the government's change of mind, which had looked increasingly likely since last November's pre-budget statement promised to explore the effectiveness of voluntary action as an alternative to taxes (ENDS Daily 9 November 1999). "We have argued all along that a tax would not be effective, and would be gravely damaging to the farming industry," Dr Buckenham said.

The BAA package addresses environmental impacts, effects on biodiversity and on water quality through a targeted research campaign, improving information to farmers, raising standards of advice and improving environmental awareness.

Four European countries currently have systems of pesticide taxation: Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden.

Follow Up:
UK finance ministry, tel: +44 20 72 70 48 60; BAA, tel: +44 1733 349 225.

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