Exiting the European Union (Environmental Protection)

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 4:18 pm on 8th October 2019.

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Photo of Zac Goldsmith Zac Goldsmith The Minister of State, Department for International Development, The Minister of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs 4:18 pm, 8th October 2019

I thank my right hon. Friend very much for his kind words and his intervention. He is absolutely right. We need a hugely ambitious tree planting programme for this country. We do have an ambitious tree planting programme, but my view is that we need to step it up even further. We are certainly planning to do so and there will be, I can tell him tantalisingly, some announcements soon to that effect. It is not just about planting trees; it is also about ecosystems and encouraging wildlife in all its forms. As he knows, one of the advantages of leaving the European Union is that we can change the common agricultural policy to a system that, instead of paying people simply for owning land—effectively, simply for being wealthy—we will be paying them subsidies in return for providing public goods like improving biodiversity, flood prevention and so on. This is one of the great Brexit bonuses that I am looking forward to.