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Berlin – The German state of Bavaria is set to accept in large part a plan by environmentalists to save bees and protect biodiversity, averting a referendum on the issue.

In February, backers of the plan collected nearly 1.75 million signatures, over 18% of the region’s electorate and enough to force a vote. It would set aside more space to protect imperiled insects and banish many pesticides from a third of Bavaria’s agricultural land.

Leaders of Bavaria’s two governing parties – both traditional allies of farmers, who have criticized the proposal – said Wednesday that they would back the plan in the state legislature. But news agency dpa reported that they said some aspects would be clarified and there would be payments to farmers to cushion the impact.

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