Degraded Chalk Stream Environments

Part of Petition - Shelton Road Planning Application – in the House of Commons at 8:33 pm on 22nd July 2019.

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Photo of Richard Benyon Richard Benyon Conservative, Newbury 8:33 pm, 22nd July 2019

I have heard similar stories, and I do not know the circumstances of this. I wrote to the company before this debate asking for it to give its side of the argument, but I did not hear back. I am not necessarily criticising the company, as I approached it only at the end of last week.

My point is this: in our management of these rare systems, we need not just to be getting the sort of thing I was just discussing right, but to be looking at agriculture. My right hon. and learned Friend the Member for North East Hertfordshire was so correct in what he said about that. Min-till—minimum tillage—agricultural systems are vital, not least because of the worms that are allowed to prosper in the soil, which affects the permeability of that soil crust so that water goes through to the aquifer, rather than running off and taking with it a lot of the topsoil. We have a wonderful, rare and special opportunity that we can now deliver through the Agriculture Bill and the environment Bill. We are talking about changes that can make sure we are incentivising farmers and working with them right across a catchment to deliver extraordinary benefits.