Environment Bill

Thank you for your email – I completely agree with you about our natural environment and the protection of wildlife. I am sure that the measures in the Environment Bill will protect both the UK's vibrant ecosystem and the natural environment worldwide.

As you know, DEFRA has 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 recently asked a question in Parliament about how the ELM system will be delivered effectively- https://www.parliament.uk/business/publications/written-questions-answers-statements/written-question/Commons/2019-01-21/210559/

The Agriculture Bill and the Environment 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 and demonstrate that the Government is listening to concerns about how we shape farming and the environment after we leave the EU.

The Government is committed to being the UK's greenest ever, and has established a 25-Year Environment Plan to Improve the Environment (which underpins the Environment Bill) to help achieve this goal and the Government’s plan contains many of the elements you have mentioned in your email.

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.

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 the penultimate paragraph of 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: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/25-year-environment-plan