The Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA) have reiterated in recent days that claims they intend to go back on this country’s world-leading commitment to our environment are not correct.
Indeed last year the Government introduced the most significant legislation yet on protections with the 2021 Environment Act.
A strong environment and a strong economy are of course not necessarily mutually exclusive. I supported the Government taking legislative action through the Environment Act and it will continue to improve regulations and wildlife laws in line with this law's ambitious vision.
Government has been clear that it also wants every part of the country to prosper. Bureaucratic processes in the planning system often do not necessarily protect the environment so it is right regulations are fit for purpose for this to happen.
As set out in the Growth Plan; Government will look at the frameworks for regulation, innovation and investment that impact farmers and land managers. This is to make sure that policies are best placed to both boost food production – obviously important to keep costs down for consumers and for food security – and, crucially, to protect our environment. This will include looking at how best to deliver the Environmental Land Management schemes to see where and how improvements can be made.
Boosting food production and strengthening resilience and sustainability come alongside, not instead of, protecting and enhancing our natural environment. Later this year DEFRA will set out more details of plans on how to increase food security while strengthening the resilience and role of farmers as stewards of the British countryside.
The Government’s world-leading agenda for nature recovery is backed up by plans for a legally-binding target to halt nature’s decline by 2030. Indeed, the 25-Year Environment Plan sets out this country’s ambition for a growing and resilient network of land, water and sea that is richer in plants and wildlife. Three quarters of our two and a half million acres of protected sites will be restored to favourable condition, securing their wildlife value for the long term.
Internationally, the UK Government has committed to protect 30 per cent of Britain’s land and ocean by 2030 through the Leaders Pledge for Nature, committing to put nature and biodiversity globally on a road to recovery by 2030.
To support this ambitious work, the Government published a Nature Recovery Green Paper earlier this year which sets out proposals to reform our nation’s system of protections, including the Habitats Regulations.
The Nature Recovery Green Paper consultation closed in May and DEFRA are now in the process of analysing submissions received, with its response to be published in due course.
The Government has also published new guidance on Investment Zones which aim to streamline and accelerate delivery of high-quality development. This sets out the intention to remove burdensome European Union requirements which create paperwork and stall development, while not necessarily protecting the environment.
As Crawley MP and a member of the Conservative Environment Network please be assured of my continued attention.
Henry Smith MP