Asian hornet threat levels are low
There has been coverage today (19 June) in the Sun, the Mail, Star, Mirror Online, Huffpost, Metro and CBBC Newsround of the threat posed by Asian hornet incursions to the UK mainland. The articles claim that the UK is set to be ‘invaded’ by a swam of ‘killer’ Asian hornets from the island of Jersey.
Since 2016, there have been 13 confirmed sightings of the Asian hornet in England and six nests have been destroyed. But it is important to remember that no Asian hornets have been seen in the UK since 14 October 2018.
At present there is also no evidence to suggest there are any undiscovered Asian hornet nests in the UK but we ask people to remain vigilant. If you suspect you have seen an Asian hornet you should report this using the ‘Asian Hornet Watch’ app (iPhone / android).
Media coverage reports that there is an on-going risk that Asian hornets could be accidentally transported in the UK. This is correct - in 2018 there were 55 Asian hornet nests destroyed in Jersey and at least 1 hornet was found overwintering on the island. However, the risk of an active Asian hornet nest being found in the UK is negligible during the colder winter months. Defra and the National Bee Unit has a strong response when a nest is identified and confirmed.
Nicola Spence, Chief Plant Health Officer, said:
By ensuring we are alerted to possible sightings as early as possible, we can take swift and effective action to stamp out the threat posed by Asian hornets.
While the Asian hornet poses no greater risk to human health than a bee, we recognise the damage they can cause to honey bee colonies and other beneficial insects.
Please continue to look out for any Asian hornets and if you think you’ve spotted one, report your sighting through the Asian hornet app or online.
There is a rolling information page on Gov.uk which is updated with all the latest information on sightings and nest eradication in the UK.
Thousands of farmers in stewardship agreements to be paid in July
There has been positive coverage this morning in The Financial Times, Yorkshire Post and Farmers Guardian, following our announcement that payments will be issued to thousands of farmers owed money for carrying out environmental projects on their land. Paul Caldwell, Chief Executive of the Rural Payments Agency, also appeared on Farming Today this morning to talk about the news.
Environmental Stewardship (ES) and Countryside Stewardship (CS) customers with unpaid annual revenue claims, some dating back to 2015, will receive a payment for the full amount they are owed by the end of July.
RPA Chief Executive Paul Caldwell said:
Today we are announcing that outstanding revenue claims for agri-environment schemes will be paid in full.
We are determined to build on the improvements that we have already put in place, keep up a regular cycle of timely payments, and restore confidence in these schemes which are so important for our environment.
The NFU and CLA have broadly welcomed the news that thousands of farmers will be fully paid for environmental work.
CLA President Tim Breitmeyer said:
Farmers and land managers will welcome the news that money owed will be processed next month. Those waiting to be paid for work dating all the way back to 2015 will be especially happy to see the money land in their bank accounts.
NFU Deputy President Guy Smith said:
This news from the RPA will help provide much-needed relief for those farming businesses waiting on outstanding Countryside Stewardship and Environmental Stewardship payments.