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Environment Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 9:11 pm on 28th October 2019.

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Photo of Vicky Ford Vicky Ford Conservative, Chelmsford 9:11 pm, 28th October 2019

We only have one planet, and we must leave it in a better shape than we found it. We all know what we need to do: tackle greenhouse gas emissions that lead to climate change; tackle the loss of habitat that is driving out our wildlife and birdlife; tackle the pollution in our air and water; and reduce waste and plastics. What many people do not know, however, is what we are doing: leading the world in cutting emissions; leading the world in committing to net zero; and leading the world in our passion to eradicate coal and deliver renewables, especially offshore. Our tiny island has committed that we will protect a third of the world’s ocean. We in Britain are leading the global effort to protect the poorest countries from climate change. There is much to be proud of.

There is, of course, more we can do. The Bill will mean that the emissions targets we set will be met. It will mean that there is a step change in how we deliver clean water and clean air, and how we deal with traffic problems such as the Army and Navy roundabout in Chelmsford, which is creating so much pollution. In areas like Chelmsford, where builders are delivering the homes we humans need, builders will now have to deliver the homes that our animals, wildlife and birdlife need.

Many Members have spoken about planting trees. I commend the great work of the Beaulieu Park development in Chelmsford, set under the Conservative leadership of the local council, where 90,000 trees, whips and shrubs were planted. As the Minister is in her place, may I remind her that 595,000 people have signed the petition asking for hedgehog highways, so that where we have new developments gardens will let hedgehogs in and not lock them out?

Finally, on plastic pollution, the Bill will allow us to take on the scourge of plastic waste, which is choking our rivers, our seas and our oceans. I was delighted this autumn, when I took part in my own river clean-up in Chelmsford, to notice that the amount of rubbish people had thrown by the river and in the river had reduced since people became aware of this issue, but they want us to do more. By making producers pay for the damage their products cause, we can end a throwaway society and make sure that products last longer, are more reusable, are more repairable and are more easily recycled. As far as all the people I meet are concerned, especially schoolchildren in Chelmsford, the deposit return scheme for plastic bottles cannot come soon enough.