Environment Bill

I am sure that the measures in the current Environment (Principles and Governance) Bill will protect both the UK’s vibrant ecosystem and the natural environment worldwide. As you know, DEFRA has also recently published the Agriculture Bill and I have met with local farmers, the NFU and also Michael Gove to discuss the Agriculture Bill. The Bill sets out how farmers and land managers will in future be paid for “public goods”, such as better air and water quality, improved soil health, higher animal welfare standards, public access to the countryside and measures to reduce flooding.

The new environmental land management (ELM) system will bring in a new era for farming, providing an income stream for farmers and land managers who protect and preserve our natural environment. For the first time, farmers and land managers will be able to decide for themselves how they can deliver environmental benefits from their businesses and their land, and how they integrate this into their food, timber and other commercial activities. Indeed, I have asked a question in Parliament about how the ELM system will be delivered effectively.

The Agriculture Bill and the Environment (Principles and Governance) Bill will together protect the environment as there is so much overlap with how we manage farmland and the protections that the natural environment and wildlife need. The Bills have been well received but the Government must be sure to listen to concerns about how we shape farming and the environment after we leave the EU.

The Government has stated that it is committed to being the UK’s greenest ever, and has established a 25-Year Environment Plan to Improve the Environment to help achieve this goal.

Please rest assured that I am committed to a cleaner, greener future and I firmly believe that the Bills will bring about the improvements referred to in your email. If you would like more information on the Government’s long-term environment plans, DEFRA’s 25-Year Environment Plan has more detail  and the details about the Environment (Principles and Governance) Bill are available here.

The Environment (Principles and Governance) Bill includes provisions such as an environmental watchdog in the form of the Office for Environmental Protection (OEP) – which will scrutinise environmental law and the government’s environmental improvement plan, investigate complaints on environmental law and take enforcement action on environmental law. It will also ensure that environmental principles will be set in the process of developing future policy and the Government will measure and report on the progress being made.

The Environment (Principles and Governance) Bill is undergoing scrutiny by the Environment Audit Select Committee at present and it is intended that it will lead to a full Environment Bill this year. I will monitor this closely to ensure that the Government’s commitments to the environment are met and play my part in helping to shape our natural environment.