The pledge will see Homebase remove neonicotinoid-based products from sale by the end of 2018.

Scientific evidence has shown the acute environmental risk posed by neonicotinoids – some bee species are thought to have declined by up to 30% in the last 20 years due to the use of neonics on plants and crops.

Homebase is the last of 10 leading ten garden centres and retailers to publicly commit to telling plant suppliers not to use the chemicals, following a Friends of the Earth investigation earlier this summer.

At the time, Friends of the Earth revealed to edie that plants at one Homebase garden centre contained traces of two of the three neonics that are outlawed within Europe, despite those plants being labelled as ‘bee-friendly’.

After an initial dismissal of those claims, the retailer has now thrown its weight behind a ban. Homebase claims the decision took some time while advice was sought from suppliers and other key stakeholders.

“As a responsible retailer, we remain committed to reducing our environmental impact, taking action where necessary with regards to our product ranges and supply chain,” a Homebase statement read.

‘Great news’

The ban will be supported by a robust audit process, Homebase confirmed. The move has been welcomed by Friends of the Earth, which has received significant public backing for its campaign.

Friends of the Earth bee campaigner Dr Nick Rau said: “We’re delighted Homebase has committed to not using bee-harming neonic pesticides on its garden plants, and to back this up with a robust auditing process.

“This is great news for our bees, and for the many thousands of people across the UK who urged Homebase to act.”

The movement behind the widespread rejection of toxic chemicals in garden plants has recently gained political support from the UK Government. Earlier this month, Defra gave its backing to tougher restrictions on bee-harming neonics, ahead of an expected EU vote on the matter before Christmas.

In May, B&Q became the first home improvement retailer to announce it will grow its flowering plant range free from all neonics.

George Ogleby

Action inspires action. Stay ahead of the curve with sustainability and energy newsletters from edie