Michelham Priory

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 6:53 pm on 15th September 2020.

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Photo of Rebecca Pow Rebecca Pow The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs 6:53 pm, 15th September 2020

I thank my hon. Friend for that point, but I think she is slightly missing the point that if one let the water flow, the pennywort would flow out. The pennywort is a real obstacle in the chain of sorting this out, and that is what needs to be addressed.

I have talked very closely with the Environment Agency about this and I do get this point, which needs to be addressed. I would say—and will reiterate as I go through— that I think more conversations need to be held about this, because it is one of the keys to unlocking what I believe my hon. Friend is aiming to achieve.

The Environment Agency is managing the floating pennywort in the moat on the society’s behalf at its own expense because, even confined within the moat, it needs to be reduced. The agency is trying to tackle it, as part of its commitment and duties to conserve the environment and protect the downstream Cuckmere river. I want to be clear that the Environment Agency has duties in respect of the river, but they are very much in terms of protecting the wider environment; that is the agency’s role.

If my hon. Friend would like to discuss these matters further, I have asked the Environment Agency to meet her in order to further that.