Agriculture Bill and Environment Bill

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs written question – answered on 19th May 2020.

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Photo of Andrew Percy Andrew Percy Conservative, Brigg and Goole

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what representations he has received on the inclusion of nature-based solutions in the (a) Agriculture Bill and (b) Environment Bill.

Photo of Rebecca Pow Rebecca Pow The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Nature-based solutions are key to tackling societal challenges, such as climate change, while simultaneously providing human well-being and biodiversity benefits. The Government is deploying such solutions to improve our natural environment.

We have received representations on including certain types of nature-based solutions in the Agriculture Bill. However, clause 1(1) of the Bill is broadly drafted and already enables the Secretary of State to support the delivery of environmental outcomes through nature-based solutions. For example, we will use the powers in the Agriculture Bill to introduce our ambitious new Environmental Land Management (ELM) scheme, which is intended to provide a powerful vehicle for achieving the goals of the 25 Year Environment Plan. Under the ELM, farmers and land managers may enter into agreements to be paid for delivering a range of public goods. This could include nature based solutions that contribute towards reducing the instances of, and provide protection from, environmental hazards such as flooding.

Likewise, the Environment Bill introduces a powerful package of new policies and tools to support nature's recovery. Biodiversity net gain, Local Nature Recovery Strategies (LNRSs), conservation covenants and a strengthened biodiversity duty on public authorities will work together to drive local action on the ground, creating or restoring rich habitats to enable wildlife to recover and thrive.

Notably our net gain measures create an approach to development which means that habitats for wildlife must be left in a measurably better state than they were in pre-development. These measures will be supported by LNRSs to guide smooth and effective delivery of mandatory biodiversity net gain. They will help local authorities to best understand where investment in new habitat creation or restoration will achieve best outcomes for biodiversity and wider environmental benefits.

We will continue to engage with a wide range of stakeholders as we move towards implementing these measures.

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