Degraded Chalk Stream Environments

Part of Petition - Shelton Road Planning Application – in the House of Commons at 8:46 pm on 22nd July 2019.

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Photo of Therese Coffey Therese Coffey The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs 8:46 pm, 22nd July 2019

I am afraid that I will not give way on that point, because I am still trying to answer the points raised by other hon. Members. We may still have time at the end of this debate, but I feel there is another time for another debate on the glory of glyphosate—I am sure that I will be slandered on social media tonight for having said those words.

My right hon. and learned Friend mentioned how long it has taken to get a new Thames reservoir, and I genuinely hope we will see the plan come forward soon.

The hon. Member for Warwick and Leamington referred to his childhood roots, and in this House it is always important to recognise that, although we represent very special parts of the country, we sometimes have our roots elsewhere, which I think makes us better politicians. I appreciate that he has stayed here to talk about the impacts. He also mentioned grey water resources and how they might help water consumption. Indeed, there is a theory that the consumer is not keen on grey water, and we might need to do more work to promote the use of grey water resources in the water challenge of new homes, which I am sure he will recognise are important to his constituency, as they are in other parts of the country.

My right hon. Friend the Member for Chesham and Amersham also talked about water consumption, and I hope she will participate in the consultation. Importantly, she mentioned the challenges faced by the River Chess and the River Misbourne. It is astonishing to hear that the average consumption is 173 litres, which we need to change. I am sure she will be an active champion on that matter, as we already know she is an active champion on behalf of her constituents when it comes to High Speed 2. She referred to a number of different issues, but I am conscious that her work on the possible impacts on Ox Cam will not have been lost on the Housing Minister, who was present for the majority of the debate—he had the wisdom perhaps to leave for my contribution.

My hon. Friend Vicky Ford told us of her intention to go up the River Chelmer on a canoe, and I hope she returns with a paddle. My right hon. Friend the Member for Newbury, who I am delighted to say is leading a review on highly protected marine areas, does not forget the rivers and streams in his own constituency. Indeed, he referred to a number of them, including the River Lambourn.

On the number of years of drought—just make it rain—it is perhaps of some comfort to the Prime Minister that, in her three years in office, she has never had to worry about a flood or a drought. Who knows how long that luck can last?

My right hon. Friend the Member for Newbury highlighted that 80% of species are invertebrates, which get ignored in our debate on the environment, and I am glad he is here today. He also talked about chemicals going into the water. That is important, and in the development of our chemical strategy over the next year, the Government will take account of how we get the balance right on chemicals, which produce much magic for our everyday lives, but we need to be very conscious of the impact they can have. Of course, he also referred to the River Kennet and to water transfer.

A number of issues have been raised about how we need to preserve these habitats, and I fully agree. The habitats in our country are so special. They are quite a small part of our British Isles, but they are so important to the world, which is why this Government will continue, in the 25-year plan, to make sure we pass on an environment that is in a better state than this generation inherited. We will do that domestically and internationally.

I thank the House. I know this has been a long debate, but one of the special things about this Chamber is that something that might seem quite parochial has huge global significance, and I am delighted to have shared this debate with so many right hon. and hon. Members tonight.