Protecting Our Environmental Laws

As you may know, I am passionate about the natural environment and I am delighted that the Government is also committed to its safeguarding. Following the vote to leave the European Union, the Government will work with environmental organisations, farmers, other stakeholders, and the wider public to develop its new policies, which are better suited to our own circumstances. Until we leave the European Union, the existing arrangements remain in place. In the meantime, I thought it might be helpful to give you a summary of some of the Government's thinking.

I am fully committed to protecting wildlife and nature, and I am proud of the Government's record in creating and improving vital habitats. Since 2010, it has helped clean up 625 square miles of lakes and over 15,000 kilometres of rivers, and more than 945 miles of hedges have been restored and planted. There is of course more to do so I welcome the commitment to plant 11 million more trees by 2020.

Tackling air quality is another priority. Alongside national action and continued investment in cleaner technologies, air quality plans published last December seek to tackle air pollution through a new programme of Clean Air Zones. In those cities with the most persistent air quality challenges (Birmingham, Leeds, Southampton, Nottingham and Derby) Ministers will legislate to implement Clean Air Zones.

The UK will continue to play a leading role in combating climate change, as we did at the Paris Conference. Carbon emissions have fallen by 6 percent since 2010, contributing to a 27 per cent reduction since 1990. Britain's share of electricity generated from renewables has doubled since 2009 and Ministers are determined to ensure we become a world leader in the new green economy.

You may be aware that I am passionate about the environment, which I know is an area about which you have raised concerns. All current EU law relating to the environment will be transferred to the UK in the Repeal Bill. I have made the case repeatedly to the Government that we must maintain our high standard of environmental protection. The proposed Agriculture Bill provides powers to change the system currently used to operate the Common Agricultural Policy and to develop the system to be more sustainable to the UK’s needs. A Fisheries Bill will focus on repatriating powers and control of this sector. Working as a Parliamentary Private Secretary (PPS) in the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs, I am delighted that I will be at the heart of this decision making. Indeed, I made reference to the environment and sustainability during my speech in the debate following the Queen’s Speech. With the right legislative tools, I hope we will build a Brexit that works for agriculture, the environment, and ultimately for us all.

The Secretary of State will shortly launch a green paper that will give environmentalists and others the chance to share their views and ambitions for the future. I can assure you that I will continue to follow developments in this area and will always raise pertinent issues with Ministers as necessary.