Thank you for contacting me about the draft Environment Bill.
As set out in the 25 Year Plan to Improve the Environment, the decision to leave the European Union has created an historic opportunity to deliver a Green Brexit, where environmental standards are not only maintained but enhanced.
Draft clauses to be included in the Environment Bill on environmental principles and governance have now been published. These draft clauses will be central to the new Environment Bill and will place environmental ambition and accountability at the heart of government. I am encouraged that these clauses are only part of a broader Bill, which will include legislative measures to take direct action to address the biggest environmental priorities of our age: air quality, nature recovery, waste and resource efficiency, and water resource management. More detail on all policy areas will be published in due course.
The draft clauses set out how a new system of green governance will be created, including establishing an Office for Environmental Protection, to ensure we succeed in leaving the environment in a better condition than we found it. The draft clauses also place our 25 Year Environment Plan on a statutory footing, and introduce a set of environmental principles that will be used to guide future government policy making.
In the Plan, the Government committed to developing a Nature Recovery Network and, in the long term, to create or restore 500,000 hectares of wildlife-rich habitat outside the protected site series. I am encouraged that action is being taken to protect wildlife sites and to restore and create wildlife-rich habitats, and that investment is being made to aid species recovery.
I firmly believe in protecting both the UK’s vibrant ecosystem and the natural environment worldwide. Environmental and economic progress are not just compatible: they depend on each other.
Carbon emissions have fallen by 42 per cent 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.
Between 2010 and 2015 Ministers provided £7.5 million to establish 12 Nature Improvement Areas, created 150,000 acres of priority habitats and planted over 11 million trees; they are now committed to planting 11 million more. The National Pollinator Strategy will improve our understanding of the abundance, diversity and role of pollinators, and identify any additional actions needed to protect them.
Fifty Marine Conservation Zones have been created to help protect our rich marine life, joining the UK’s over 500 existing marine protected areas, and a further 41 have since been announced. A new UK Blue Belt of protected sites is now being created in British waters and around the UK’s 14 Overseas Territories where there is local support and environmental need.
Outside the EU Britain can build on what we have done so far and develop global gold standard environmental policies, taking a more targeted approach. Having left the Common Agricultural Policy we can use public money for public goods, rewarding environmentally responsible land use. Meanwhile, by leaving the Common Fisheries Policy we will be able to grant access and allocate quotas based on sustainability, allowing us to pursue the highest standards in marine conservation.
Thank you again for taking the time to contact me.
Craig Whittaker MP