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Environment Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 9:07 pm on 28th October 2019.

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Photo of Gillian Keegan Gillian Keegan Conservative, Chichester 9:07 pm, 28th October 2019

I completely agree. There are huge blockages in traffic flow on the A27 and at the junction on the M3. That needs to be sorted out. I hope the £25 billion that is being invested in road infrastructure will address both of those issues and both of those roads.

Chichester is also famous for its harbour and the Chichester Harbour Conservancy, led by Richard Craven, who does a fantastic job. However, despite its efforts there are still concerns about water quality. I therefore hope that the Secretary of State will use the powers in the Bill to work with industry to address issues such as sewage water leaching and storm drain discharge into pristine marine environments. I hope she will work with boating communities like mine to better develop a network of waste water collection sites for leisure boats, as boats releasing sewage directly into our waterways increases harmful bacteria and nitrate levels.

Chichester harbour’s importance is not just about biodiversity. Recent analysis by the RSPB shows that areas such as the harbour and Pagham nature reserve, which is also in my constituency, are massive carbon sinks, with up to 310 tonnes per hectare. Maintaining such carbon-rich natural environments to a high standard not only benefits nature but helps us to mitigate climate change.

The Bill rightly brings forward the ability of the Secretary of State to withdraw water abstraction licences in an effort to protect the natural environment after 2028. This is vital to protect biodiversity, especially in times of water shortage. I urge the Government to continue and further develop a water resource management grant scheme so that growers and farmers are less reliant on water sources from their surrounding environment, and so that as a nation we are resilient in times of drought.

The Bill brings a sense of hope. It is the foundation from which we can develop a comprehensive environmental policy that will enable us to meet our net zero target. The sooner we act, the sooner we can become a world-leading net zero economy.