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 Baroness Hayman of Ullock Baroness Hayman of Ullock Opposition Whip (Lords), Shadow Spokesperson (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) 9:45 pm, 7th July 2021

My Lords, this debate very much follows on from the previous one, so I will be brief. Amendment 212 in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Oates, looks to give local authorities and planning authorities new powers, so they can meaningfully fulfil their duty to conserve and enhance biodiversity, by allowing them to designate sites at risk of biodiversity loss. Local authorities need to consider and integrate biodiversity conservation throughout their policies and strategies—for example, waste, transport and education. Cross-departmental consultation, ecological expertise and the support of a wide range of partners will be crucial in achieving this.

The noble Lord, Lord Teverson, spoke in his introduction to his Amendment 227A of the importance of co-operation between public authorities. We support the aims of this amendment, but we have some concerns the proposed powers could risk duplicating those provided by local nature recovery strategies, which have the potential to allow authorities to build and maintain ecologically coherent networks of nature recovery sites. It may be that these aims are better fulfilled by Amendment 209 to Clause 95, which we have discussed and was tabled by the noble Baroness, Lady Parminter.

We support Amendment 231A, also in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Teverson, on ELMS and local nature recovery strategies. The noble Baroness, Lady Boycott, has just clearly expressed her concerns, which reflect those of many others, about the introduction of ELMS and the lack of clarity at the moment. Amendment 231A would tie projects funded by ELMS to the local nature recovery strategy. This is important, because this alignment would ensure that gains for nature from ELMS would complement, and further gains from other policies, such as biodiversity net gain, would be co-ordinated by, the appropriate local nature recovery strategy. That would help local nature recovery strategies to fulfil their critical directional role to build and maintain ecologically coherent networks of nature recovery sites.

The Secretary of State has previously expressed his belief that ELMS projects should align with the local nature recovery strategies. Earlier, my noble friend Lady Jones of Whitchurch, mentioned the work of the Environmental Audit Select Committee. In January, the Secretary of State said he wants ELMS

“to be conscious of and dovetail with local nature recovery strategies”,

so there is that support in Government. But as the noble Baroness, Lady Jones of Moulsecoomb, and my noble friend Lady Young of Old Scone have said, we need to consider the ambitions of the Agriculture Act and this Bill, and make sure they are joined-up, saying the same thing and working together. We therefore hope the Government will consider taking this amendment forward. I look forward to the Minister’s response.