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Environment Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 6:43 pm on 28th October 2019.

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Photo of Theresa Villiers Theresa Villiers The Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs 6:43 pm, 28th October 2019

No, I am going to wind up now.

Clean, safe and abundant water for all is a fundamental focus of this Bill. The provisions in part 5 will improve the way companies operate to meet current and future demand, help to ensure improved, long-term water resources, help with wastewater planning and enable more resilient solutions to drought and flooding.

In conclusion, just as the Bill seeks to put nature and climate at the heart of government decision making, so the Government are placing these environmental goals at the heart of our efforts to relieve poverty around the world. We are doubling our international climate finance funding and investing £220 million to protect international biodiversity. Working with overseas territories, we are on track to protect over 4 million sq km of the ocean by the end of 2020, and we are leading a global ocean alliance determined to protect at least 30% of the ocean in marine protected areas by 2030.

As we look ahead to co-hosting COP 26, we want this country to lead the global ambition for international targets on climate, ocean and biodiversity. I hope that in years to come people will look back on 2020 as a turning point—as a time when we came together, both nationally and internationally, to start to reverse the disastrous erosion of nature and wildlife. There can be no doubt that reversing the tragedy of biodiversity loss is a massive task, but the Bill sets up a vital framework to enable that process of recovery to accelerate. It is a truly landmark piece of legislation, enshrining environmental principles in law, requiring this Government and their successors to set demanding and legally binding targets and creating a world-leading environmental watchdog to hold them to account.

In my maiden speech in this House, I extolled the beauty of the open spaces of my Chipping Barnet constituency. I emphasised the crucial importance I placed on protection of the green belt and our natural environment. Fifteen years on, I remain convinced that there can be few things more important for a Member of this House than to be able to say that in their time in elected office they played a part in conserving the stunning landscapes, wildlife and natural habitats of this great country. In its 232 pages, its 130 clauses and its 20 schedules, the Bill will help us all to do that. I commend the Bill to the House.