Environmental targets and objectives

Part of Agriculture Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 11:15 am on 20th November 2018.

Alert me about debates like this

The Chancellor’s view that any new laws should be kept to a minimum does not, I believe, represent the views of many businesses. In a letter published in The Sunday Telegraph—yes, I am a Sunday Telegraph and Sun reader; I hope Conservative Back Benchers are listening—members of the Aldersgate Group, including Siemens, Marks & Spencer and IKEA, called for the Bill to set

“measurable targets to cover improvements to air and water quality, soil health, peatland restoration, net biodiversity gain and resource efficiency.”

The group said that those targets

“provide a level playing field”,

which is what everyone wants,

“incentivise investment in innovation, support job creation and help businesses develop commercial strengths in fast-growing areas of the world economy.”

As the group’s executive director says:

“Where environmental protections are ambitious, well designed and properly implemented, they can actually deliver economic as well as environmental benefits”.

We hear a lot about red tape, regulation and targets being a burden on business. I included that to show that business likes targets and certainty. Businesses like to be able to plan, and to know that the Government are on their side.

Reassurances by the Minister will not be enough; we need the promises to be enshrined in law. We know that the Environment Secretary was offered another job just a couple of days ago. I never thought I would say that I was glad that he turned it down, but for the time being I am glad that he is still in post. However, given the current chaos on the Government Benches we do not know who will be in post perhaps even in hours, let alone days, weeks and months. It is important that we enshrine it in law, so that we can protect the noble ambitions of the farming Minister and his boss.