Amendment 212

Part of Environment Bill - Committee (6th Day) – in the House of Lords at 9:45 pm on 7th July 2021.

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Photo of Lord Teverson Lord Teverson Chair, EU Environment Sub-Committee, Chair, EU Environment Sub-Committee 9:45 pm, 7th July 2021

My Lords, I shall be pretty brief on this, because both my amendments should really have been in the previous group, although one of them is particularly important.

First, I take just one minute to reassure the noble Baroness, Lady Young of Old Scone. She was concerned that she should not be consumed by vultures, but on the of Isles of Scilly, we have an Egyptian vulture visiting this year. There may not be an opportunity next year, so there are big decisions. That vulture joins Wally the Walrus, who, unfortunately, has come some 2,000 miles too far south on an ice floe and is trying to land his big weight—up to a tonne—on local vessels. I say to the Minister that we have some introductions that were not necessarily there before the last ice age, but there we are.

I shall be very brief. My first amendment says that local authorities must have a duty to implement nature recovery networks. That comes back to the theme of the previous group, and I shall not go through that again. My second amendment, which is also slightly out of place here, is key. It comes back to environmental land management schemes, which will be the big game-changers in practice in the countryside over the next decade. Why? Because they have real resources behind them—£2.5 billion per annum, potentially—to put into nature recovery. Their whole ethos and guiding hand is public goods being paid for by public money, and their concentration is to be on biodiversity—not all of it is for nature recovery but a large proportion of it is.

We have the three tiers, as they were called: the sustainable farm initiative, the nature recovery area and the whole landscape side. I am stating the totally blindingly obvious, but you cannot have that going off in one direction and nature recovery networks going off in another. One is primarily produced by local government, AONBs or national parks; the other is produced and decided by Defra centrally. The good news is that they are both within the “Defra family”, but I have little hope that, without real concentration, one part of Defra will be talking to the Natural England side, on the other, on nature recovery network implementation. My challenge is this: how are we going to get those two key elements to work together, rather than working in conflict?

The only other thing I would say is that I was delighted to put my name to my noble friend Lord Oates’s amendment; he has expounded those virtues tremendously. I will not follow on from that, except to entirely endorse his arguments.