Seabed: Mining

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs written question – answered on 30th July 2019.

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Photo of Caroline Lucas Caroline Lucas Green, Brighton, Pavilion

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, with reference to the oral evidence given by his Department’s Chief Scientist Professor Gideon Henderson to the Environmental Audit Committee on 16 October 2018, what the implications are for his policies of the statement that deep sea mining will do substantial damage to that local environment on the seabed, and that is pretty much unavoidable; and if he will make a statement.

Photo of Therese Coffey Therese Coffey The Minister of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

The UK is pushing for transparent, science-based and environmentally sound regulation of seabed mining by the International Seabed Authority to ensure effective protections of deep sea habitats and biodiversity while allowing UK businesses to realise the commercial opportunities.

We are using our influence to secure the adoption of a mining code in 2020 that provides for robust and accountable oversight of mining activity. This includes (i) enshrining the precautionary principle and an ecosystem approach in the mining code; (ii) ensuring that in addition to the core regulations, effective and binding standards and guidelines to ensure environmentally sound mining have been adopted before exploitation licences are granted, and that these reflect the different environmental and other features of the different mineral deposits; (iii) ensuring that Regional Environmental Management Plans (REMPs) with robust environmental objectives are established before exploitation licences can be granted and that there is a clear regulatory link between the REMPs and exploitation licences; and (iv) allowing for the suspension of mining activities when operators fail to adhere to environmental safeguards or where new evidence of risk of serious harm arises.

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