Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

We are the UK government department responsible for safeguarding our natural environment, supporting our world-leading food and farming industry, and sustaining a thriving rural economy. Our broad remit means we play a major role in people’s day-to-day life, from the food we eat, and the air we breathe, to the water we drink.



Secretary of State

 Portrait

George Eustice
Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Shadow Ministers / Spokeperson
Labour
Jim McMahon (LAB - Oldham West and Royton)
Shadow Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Liberal Democrat
Tim Farron (LDEM - Westmorland and Lonsdale)
Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
Baroness Bakewell of Hardington Mandeville (LDEM - Life peer)
Liberal Democrat Lords Spokesperson (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)

Plaid Cymru
Ben Lake (PC - Ceredigion)
Shadow PC Spokesperson (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)

Labour
Baroness Hayman of Ullock (LAB - Life peer)
Shadow Spokesperson (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)

Scottish National Party
Deidre Brock (SNP - Edinburgh North and Leith)
Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
Junior Shadow Ministers / Deputy Spokesperson
Labour
Daniel Zeichner (LAB - Cambridge)
Shadow Minister (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
Alex Sobel (LAB - Leeds North West)
Shadow Minister (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
Ruth Jones (LAB - Newport West)
Shadow Minister (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
Ministers of State
Victoria Prentis (CON - Banbury)
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park (CON - Life peer)
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
Parliamentary Under-Secretaries of State
Lord Benyon (CON - Life peer)
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
Steve Double (CON - St Austell and Newquay)
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
Scheduled Event
Thursday 8th September 2022
09:30
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Oral questions - Main Chamber
8 Sep 2022, 9:30 a.m.
Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (including Topical Questions)
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Debates
None available
Select Committee Docs
Wednesday 13th July 2022
12:17
SF0018 - UK Seafood Fund
Written Evidence
Select Committee Inquiry
None available
Written Answers
Tuesday 9th August 2022
Cereals: Exports
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to help farmers maximise cereal production for export to offset …
Secondary Legislation
Friday 22nd July 2022
Beavers (England) Order 2022
This Order, which applies to England only, amends Schedule 2 to the Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2017 (S.I. …
Bills
Wednesday 25th May 2022
Genetic Technology (Precision Breeding) Bill 2022-23
A Bill to make provision about the release and marketing of, and risk assessments relating to, precision bred plants and …
Tweets
None available
Dept. Publications
Wednesday 10th August 2022
15:46
Treaty
None available

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Commons Appearances

Oral Answers to Questions is a regularly scheduled appearance where the Secretary of State and junior minister will answer at the Dispatch Box questions from backbench MPs

Other Commons Chamber appearances can be:
  • Urgent Questions where the Speaker has selected a question to which a Minister must reply that day
  • Adjornment Debates a 30 minute debate attended by a Minister that concludes the day in Parliament.
  • Oral Statements informing the Commons of a significant development, where backbench MP's can then question the Minister making the statement.

Westminster Hall debates are performed in response to backbench MPs or e-petitions asking for a Minister to address a detailed issue

Written Statements are made when a current event is not sufficiently significant to require an Oral Statement, but the House is required to be informed.


Bills currently before Parliament


A Bill to make provision about the welfare of certain kept animals that are in, imported into, or exported from Great Britain.

Commons - 60%

Last Event - 2nd Reading
Wednesday 11th May 2022
(Read Debate)

A Bill to make provision about the release and marketing of, and risk assessments relating to, precision bred plants and animals, and the marketing of food and feed produced from such plants and animals; and for connected purposes.

Commons - 60%

Last Event - Committee Debate - 7th Sitting
Thursday 7th July 2022
(Read Debate)

Acts of Parliament created in the 2019 Parliament


A Bill to make provision for an Animal Sentience Committee with functions relating to the effect of government policy on the welfare of animals as sentient beings

This Bill received Royal Assent on 28th April 2022 and was enacted into law.


A Bill to make provision about targets, plans and policies for improving the natural environment; for statements and reports about environmental protection; for the Office for Environmental Protection; about waste and resource efficiency; about air quality; for the recall of products that fail to meet environmental standards; about water; about nature and biodiversity; for conservation covenants; about the regulation of chemicals; and for connected purposes.

This Bill received Royal Assent on 9th November 2021 and was enacted into law.


A bill to make provision in relation to fisheries, fishing, aquaculture and marine conservation; to make provision about the functions of the Marine Management Organisation; and for connected purposes

This Bill received Royal Assent on 23rd November 2020 and was enacted into law.


This Bill received Royal Assent on 11th November 2020 and was enacted into law.


To make provision for the incorporation of the Direct Payments Regulation into domestic law; for enabling an increase in the total maximum amount of direct payments under that Regulation; and for connected purposes.

This Bill received Royal Assent on 30th January 2020 and was enacted into law.

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs - Secondary Legislation

This Order, which applies to England only, amends Schedule 2 to the Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2017 (S.I. 2017/1012), which lists European Protected Species of animals, and Schedule 9 to the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (c. 69), which lists animals that may not be released or allowed to escape into the wild and plants which may not be planted or otherwise caused to grow in the wild.
These Regulations make amendments to retained EU law and domestic regulations relating to the import of aquatic animals.
View All Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Secondary Legislation

Petitions

e-Petitions are administered by Parliament and allow members of the public to express support for a particular issue.

If an e-petition reaches 10,000 signatures the Government will issue a written response.

If an e-petition reaches 100,000 signatures the petition becomes eligible for a Parliamentary debate (usually Monday 4.30pm in Westminster Hall).

Trending Petitions
Petition Debates Contributed

Pet Theft Reform 2020: Revise the sentencing guidelines in the Theft Act 1968 to reclassify pet theft as a specific crime. Ensure that monetary value is irrelevant for the categorisation of dog and cat theft crime for sentencing purposes. Recognise pet theft as a category 2 offence or above.

Plenty of dogs from UK breeders & rescues need homes. Transporting young pups long distances is often stressful, before being sold for ridiculous prices to unsuspecting dog-lovers. Government must adjust current laws, ban this unethical activity on welfare grounds & protect these poor animals ASAP.

A healthy young dog with RBU was euthanised. The person who requested euthanasia was not the registered keeper.

View All Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Petitions

Departmental Select Committee

Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee

Commons Select Committees are a formally established cross-party group of backbench MPs tasked with holding a Government department to account.

At any time there will be number of ongoing investigations into the work of the Department, or issues which fall within the oversight of the Department. Witnesses can be summoned from within the Government and outside to assist in these inquiries.

Select Committee findings are reported to the Commons, printed, and published on the Parliament website. The government then usually has 60 days to reply to the committee's recommendations.


11 Members of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee
Robert Goodwill Portrait
Robert Goodwill (Conservative - Scarborough and Whitby)
Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee Chair since 25th May 2022
Derek Thomas Portrait
Derek Thomas (Conservative - St Ives)
Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee Member since 2nd March 2020
Julian Sturdy Portrait
Julian Sturdy (Conservative - York Outer)
Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee Member since 2nd March 2020
Sheryll Murray Portrait
Sheryll Murray (Conservative - South East Cornwall)
Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee Member since 2nd March 2020
Robbie Moore Portrait
Robbie Moore (Conservative - Keighley)
Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee Member since 2nd March 2020
Neil Hudson Portrait
Neil Hudson (Conservative - Penrith and The Border)
Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee Member since 2nd March 2020
Rosie Duffield Portrait
Rosie Duffield (Labour - Canterbury)
Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee Member since 2nd March 2020
Geraint Davies Portrait
Geraint Davies (Labour (Co-op) - Swansea West)
Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee Member since 2nd March 2020
Ian Byrne Portrait
Ian Byrne (Labour - Liverpool, West Derby)
Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee Member since 11th May 2020
Barry Gardiner Portrait
Barry Gardiner (Labour - Brent North)
Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee Member since 8th June 2020
Kirsty Blackman Portrait
Kirsty Blackman (Scottish National Party - Aberdeen North)
Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee Member since 5th January 2022

50 most recent Written Questions

(View all written questions)
Written Questions can be tabled by MPs and Lords to request specific information information on the work, policy and activities of a Government Department

21st Jul 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government how many seizures of imported (1) products of animal origin, and (2) pig meat, have been made in the last three years.

Border Force holds the data on seizures of imported products of animal origin, including meat. Data on seizures of pig meat specifically is unavailable.

Lord Benyon
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
21st Jul 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to help farmers maximise cereal production for export to offset global supply shortages due to the war in Ukraine.

To support our farmers we are bringing forward half of this year's BPS payment as an advance injection of cash to farm businesses and have delayed changes to the use of urea fertiliser until at least spring 2023. Farmers will be further supported through new slurry storage grants as of this year, helping meet the Farming Rules for Water and reducing dependence on artificial fertilisers by improving storage of organic nutrients.

UK cereals are mainly produced for the domestic market, and whilst the UK is 88% self-sufficient in domestically produced cereals, we do also export. It is not for the Government to dictate to famers, who are free to react to market signals, what crops to plant, or where that produce should be sold or exported.

We continue to keep the market situation under review through the UK Agriculture Market Monitoring Group, which monitors UK agricultural markets including price, supply, inputs, trade and recent developments. We have also increased our engagement with industry to supplement our analysis with real-time intelligence and to identify where mitigations are available.

Lord Benyon
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
20th Jun 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, if he will publish the (a) number and (b) dates of times Ministers in his Department have met with officials at CF Industries to discuss the closure of its Ince manufacturing plant.

Defra Ministers have not met officials at CF Industries to discuss the closure of its Ince manufacturing plant. However, officials from Defra and the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy have both held meetings with CF Fertilisers to discuss Ince.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
21st Jul 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the current risk level of African swine fever for the UK.

Managing the threat of African swine fever remains a key UK priority. Whilst we have never had an outbreak in the UK, we continue to prepare for the eventuality of one. Given the deteriorating epidemiological situation in Europe, Defra has commissioned an update to the 2018 risk assessment which looked at the risk of African swine fever entering Great Britain from the European Union via movement of humans, animals or animal products.

The risk assessment has concluded that the overall level of risk to Great Britain has remained the same as in 2018. However, the risk of entry of contaminated goods into Great Britain via personal luggage or couriers has become high. The department is looking at a range of mitigations, including targeted interventions to prevent high-risk pork from coming into Great Britain from Europe.

Lord Benyon
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
18th Jul 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the preparedness of flood defences in the Somerset levels and marshes for winter 2022–23.

The Somerset Levels and Moors remains prone to flooding, due to its low-lying nature and a rapidly changing climate. £80 million of public investment has been made in this landscape following the floods of 2013-14 to help it adapt. This significant investment has allowed improved physical infrastructure that allows pre-emptive action to be taken to delay the onset of flooding and to evacuate water more effectively from this low-lying area. This enables communities to be more resilient and to recover more rapidly from flooding.

The Environment Agency is implementing nature-based solutions at a landscape scale and working with individual landowners to support this, enhance biodiversity and increase the capacity of the landscape to absorb water and slow flooding whilst creating carbon storage.

Construction work will start next year on the £100 million Bridgwater Barrier, one of the largest flood defence schemes in the country, which was identified as an action in the 20-year Flood Action Plan for Somerset. This will reduce tidal flood risk to over 13,000 residential homes and businesses and ensure that high tide levels do not adversely impact on the Somerset Levels and Moors.

Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
18th Jul 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the Thrive initiative run by Devon County Council, which offers farmers up to three hours of free advice from a farm consultant; and what plans they have to encourage the roll out of this scheme in other areas.

The Thrive initiative is not funded by Defra but where possible we will consider any learning that it, and other similar programmes, can provide to inform our future plans.

We are due to launch the third phase of the Future Farming Resilience Fund (FFRF) which provides free expert advice to farmers and land managers in England during the early years of the agricultural transition.

It does this by awarding grants to organisations who, in turn, help farmers and land managers to:

- understand the changes that are happening;

- identify how, what and when they may need to adapt their business models;

- access tailored support to adapt.

Defra has awarded grants to 17 organisations to provide delivery of the next phase of the FFRF. The support will be available from October 2022 until March 2025.

Lord Benyon
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
13th Jul 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of their progress in meeting the commitment in the UK–EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement to "ensure that … sanitary and phytosanitary measures do not create unnecessary barriers to trade".

The Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA) includes a sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) chapter which allows the UK and the EU to take a risk-based approach to our respective SPS border controls and provides a basis for cooperation on avoiding unnecessary barriers to trade. Officials meet their counterparts on a regular basis to discuss the SPS provisions of the TCA.

Where issues are raised, we are happy to pursue appropriate resolution. For example, through the provisions of the SPS Chapter, the UK is working with the EU to take forward electronic certification, which will facilitate trade through reducing delays and reducing business administration.

Lord Benyon
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
13th Jul 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government what percentage of farm businesses in England have received the advance payment of their Basic Payment Scheme from the Rural Payments Agency.

As of 22 July 2022, 42.74% of farm businesses have been issued with Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) advance payments. This equates to a total value of £54.7M released in advance BPS funding.

The Rural Payments Agency (RPA) is forecasting to have paid over 60,000 farmers (approx. 73%) by the end of the month. By the end of the second week of August, they expect to have paid 82,000 farmers who are eligible to receive a payment at this time. Prior to the payment run, RPA undertook preliminary checks to ensure the agreed funds were ready for release on schedule. There will inevitably be a small number of farmers who cannot be paid, for reasons such as: low claim value (under £1k); outstanding probate; and absence of bank details. RPA made efforts to contact all customers ahead of time where bank details were not held, in order to minimise the number of farmers whose payments could not be made. RPA will write to all farmers they believe are unlikely to receive their payment by the end of August.

Lord Benyon
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
13th Jul 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government how much money they have paid out to farm businesses in England in advanced payment of the Basic Payment scheme.

As of 22 July 2022, 42.74% of farm businesses have been issued with Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) advance payments. This equates to a total value of £54.7M released in advance BPS funding.

The Rural Payments Agency (RPA) is forecasting to have paid over 60,000 farmers (approx. 73%) by the end of the month. By the end of the second week of August, they expect to have paid 82,000 farmers who are eligible to receive a payment at this time. Prior to the payment run, RPA undertook preliminary checks to ensure the agreed funds were ready for release on schedule. There will inevitably be a small number of farmers who cannot be paid, for reasons such as: low claim value (under £1k); outstanding probate; and absence of bank details. RPA made efforts to contact all customers ahead of time where bank details were not held, in order to minimise the number of farmers whose payments could not be made. RPA will write to all farmers they believe are unlikely to receive their payment by the end of August.

Lord Benyon
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
13th Jul 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to ensure an (1) adequate, and (2) diverse, supply of food for those of (a) Orthodox Jewish faith, and (b) other faiths, in Northern Ireland.

We recognise the importance of ensuring that everyone in Northern Ireland is able to observe their chosen faith fully, and without hindrance. This includes those of Orthodox Jewish faith, who rely on free access to kosher meats and groceries.

We have previously been made aware that a supplier decided to stop supplying kosher foods to Northern Ireland. They explained that this was owing to difficulty for them complying with the Official Controls Regulation which applies in Northern Ireland by virtue of the Northern Ireland Protocol.

We worked closely with those concerned to identify alternative options, and an alternative GB supplier of kosher foods was identified.

We are not aware of any similar issues facing those of other faiths in Northern Ireland, but we do know that the Protocol is still causing real problems. It is our preference to resolve these problems through talks with the EU, but in the meantime the Government’s Northern Ireland Protocol Bill will fix the practical problems that the Protocol has created.

Lord Benyon
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
13th Jun 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to introduce greater (1) environment, and (2) welfare, standards in farming.

Food production and environmental protection must go hand in hand. We want sustainable agriculture, so we want to work with farmers to deliver some of the environmental ambitions that we have.

The Sustainable Farming Incentive (SFI) will incentivise farmers to look after the assets that protect our food security – like soil – and boost nature recovery. We have seen an explosion of interest in regenerative farming practices such as mob grazing, the use of herbal leys, companion crops in arable fields to help manage pests and diseases and the use of cover crops and green manures like phacelia and nitrogen fixing legumes to reduce fertiliser input costs. The SFI is a flexible support mechanism that will help fund whatever an individual farmer judges is right for their own holding in this space. We are starting the early rollout of the SFI with these soils standards because healthy soils are the foundation of sustainable farming and underpin a range of environmental benefits, as well as production. It will expand to cover integrated pest management, hedges and much more over the next few years. We will not tell farmers what they have to do in detailed prescriptions but we will support the choices they make.

Animal health and welfare, genetic resources and our native breeds are a public good and it is right that the Agriculture Act recognised this for the first time. This year we will open the Animal Health and Welfare Pathway starting with a funded annual vet visit for livestock enterprises so that a trusted vet can offer strategic advice on animal health and welfare; managing pressing endemic diseases which have a major impact on farm profitability; and making recommendations on grants, available next year, to further improve welfare on farms.

Many farms have a corner of their holding that is less productive and contributes little to food production or profit margins and where it is possible to create more space for nature. We already have over 31,000 farmers in our Countryside Stewardship schemes who are doing just that and being paid for it. This year we have bumped up the payment rates for many of the interventions by 30 percent both for those already in and those seeking to join and we are looking at the whole issue of what the EU termed “ineligible features” - the patches of scrub or the dew ponds in valleys that are actually an environmental asset to be rewarded not an ineligible feature to be penalised. Almost half of farmers are already engaged in some way.

Lord Benyon
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
18th Jul 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to ensure that infrastructure is resistant to high temperatures.

The Climate Change Act 2008 created a framework for strengthening UK preparedness for dealing with risks caused by the changing climate. This includes:

- Preparing, on a five yearly cycle, a UK Climate Change Risk Assessment (CCRA), followed by a National Adaptation Programme (NAP), setting out actions to address the risks identified in the latest CCRA (copy attached to this answer).

- Providing the Secretary of State with the ‘Adaptation Reporting Power’ that enables us to require (or invite) public bodies and major infrastructure providers to report on their preparedness for climate change. The latest reports can be viewed online at gov.uk.

Our electricity infrastructure is highly resilient and designed to operate in hot weather. In the event that energy infrastructure is impacted by extreme heat, the energy sector has long-standing plans and procedures to respond and repair any damage to infrastructure.

Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
19th Jul 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, in light of its assessment as critically endangered by the IUCN, if the Government will work towards a zero Total Allowable Catch for roundnose grenadier (a) in UK-EU negotiations and (b) at the North East Atlantic Fisheries Commission.

The UK relies on advice from the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES) when negotiating sustainable total allowable catches for fish stocks, including for roundnose grenadier. We are committed to restoring stocks to healthy states including taking a precautionary approach where necessary. To reflect this, the UK unilaterally applies a bycatch provision and does not actively target this stock. The UK will continue to make use of the best available science in developing our approach for deep sea stocks in both the UK and EU consultations, and our representations at the North-East Atlantic Fisheries Commission.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
29th Jun 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps he is taking to produce local food producers in Northern Ireland.

We want to see a sustainable food system, from farm to fork and catch to plate, seizing on the opportunities before us; levelling-up every part of the country and ensuring that everyone has access to nutritious and healthier food. A key part of that is supporting local food produce. Responsibilities in food policy are devolved. However, engagement takes place with officials in Devolved Administrations to draw attention to the needs of local food producers.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
19th Jul 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, if he will make an assessment of the effectiveness of his policies on the protection of deep sea species from overexploitation.

Each year, the UK publishes the sustainability outcomes of the annual fisheries negotiations. This sets out the number of Total Allowable Catches (TACs) that have been set in line with the International Council for the Exploration Sea (ICES) advice. The UK is committed to promoting the sustainability for all fisheries stocks including deep sea species.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
4th Jul 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, with reference to the Living Wage Foundation's real wage calculator, if he will make estimate of how many (a) direct employees, (b) contractors and (c) agency workers who work in his Department and relevant agencies and public bodies receive a wage below that of either (i) the UK Real Living Wage outside of Greater London or (ii) the London Living Wage inside of Greater London.

As of 6 July 2022, taking into account pay review process which will be effective from 1 July, it is expected there will be no direct employees (excluding students and apprentices) on rates lower than the Living Wage Foundation published rates.

Wage information relating to contractors is not held. The Agency Workers Regulations 2010 are complied with by all organisations, which ensure parity of pay for agency workers with rates paid to employees

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
7th Jul 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, when he plans to respond to the correspondence of (a) 31 March, (b) 29 April, (c) 9 June and (d) 23 June from the hon. Member for Basildon and Billericay, reference JB37073.

A reply was sent to the hon. Member on 19 July.

I apologise for the delay in responding to the hon. Member.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
19th Jul 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, with reference to ICES Advice 2022 on UK cod stocks, if he will establish catch limits for cod at sustainable levels.

The UK advocates an approach towards setting total allowable catches (TACs) for cod stocks and other species that is founded on the best available scientific advice, which seeks to maintain or rebuild sustainable fish stocks and fisheries in the long term. For many whitefish stocks, such as cod, a further key consideration when setting the TAC is their interaction with other stocks caught in the same mixed fishery.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
27th Jun 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what the evidential basis is for his Department's decision that the appropriate number of operators for the seasonal worker visa route is five horticultural operators and two poultry operators.

The appropriate number of operators is a collaborative decision made by Defra and the Home Office. It is based on operator capacity to source seasonal workers and uphold sponsorship responsibilities, ensuring the visa route is well managed and worker welfare and exploitation risks are mitigated.

In 2019 and 2020, the Seasonal Workers visa route had two operators for 2,500 visas and 10,000 visas respectively. In 2021 and 2022 there were four operators for 30,000 visas and, to accommodate for the release of the extra 10,000 visas (8,000 visas going to the horticulture sector and 2,000 to the poultry sector) several additional operators will be required.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
11th Jul 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, how much his Department has spent on consultancy fees in (a) 2020, (b) 2021 and (c) 2022; and what the name is of each consultancy contracted.

The provisional consultancy spend for 2021-22 is £26.970m for the Core Department and Agencies.

The department’s spend on consultancy is published each year in the Annual Report and Accounts.

2020-21

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/defras-annual-report-and-accounts-2020-to-2021 (page 100)

2019-20

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/defras-annual-report-and-accounts-2019-to-2020 (page 87)

The names of consultancies contracted are listed below

A LUCK ASSOCIATES

Actica Consulting Ltd

Aether Ltd

ALCHEMMY CONSULTING LTD

Alexander Mann Solutions LTD

Amber Employment Services Ltd

Amec Foster Wheeler

ARCADIS CONSULTING UK LTD

Arpexas (Scotland) Ltd

Bankserve

Beamans Ltd

Biopharma Consulting (BPC)

BLUE BORDER LTD

Broadhead Global Ltd

Business Solutions Limited

Capita

Change Associates Ltd

Commercial Consultancy Ltd

Costain Ltd

CURRIE and BROWN UK LTD

Daisy Communications Limited

Deloitte LLP

Dirac Delta Solutions Ltd

Dr Gabriele Hesselbein

Dr Marion Simmons

Dr Vanessa Carn

DTA ECOLOGY LTD

EBC CONSULTING LTD

ENGINEERING SAFETY CONSULTANTS LTD

Eric Crutcher

Ernst & Young LLP (EY)

FINYX CONSULTING LTD

FIRST RESPONSE TRAINING and CONSULTANCY SERVICES LTD

Frontier Economics Ltd

G2 Recruitment Solutions

Government Legal Department

Health Management Ltd

Ingentium Ltd

IVDEOLOGY LTD

J Weeks

JACOBS UK LTD

John Points

Jones P Consulting Ltd

JSA Services Ltd t/a Workwell

Julie Gibson

Keep IT Simple

KLIFOVET AG

KPMG

KPMG Safi Al Mutawa & Partners

L T S INTERNATIONAL LTD

Learning Light

Local Partnerships LLP

Lockhart-Garratt

Louisa Wood

LSSC Ltd

M Botony

Management and Risk Solutions Ltd

MCKINSEY & CO INC UNITED KINGDOM

Met Office

Methods Business Digital Technology

METHODS CONSULTING LTD

Mo Gannon & Associates Ltd

Modality Systems Ltd

Morgan Langley

Network Rail

Nibiru Ltd

PA CONSULTING SERVICES LTD

Park Health & Safety Partnership LLP

Perfect Circle JV Ltd

Philippe Sabot Consultant (PSC)

PJM-HS CONSULTING LTD

PKM Digital Ltd

PRICEWATERHOUSECOOPERS LLP

Proxima

PUBLIC DIGITAL LTD

RADMAN ASSOCIATES LTD

Rare Little Beastie Ltd

RBS

REED

REQUIRED EXPERIENCE LTD

Richard Parker

ROYAL VETERINARY COLLEGE.

RSK GROUP PLC

Seed Science

SGS UK Ltd

Silversands Ltd

Stentiford, Grant

THE BOSTON CONSULTING GROUP UK LLP

The Neoteric Tech Company Ltd

The Research Box Ltd

Triple G Consulting Ltd

University Of Liverpool

VETERINARY VACCINES CONS LTD

Whiteball Ltd

WILLS TOWERS WATSON LTD

WRAP

WSP GLOBAL

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
18th Jul 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment he has made of the impact that the July 2022 heatwave will have on the UK's food supply.

The UK has a highly resilient food supply chain, as demonstrated throughout the Covid-19 response. Our high degree of food security is built on supply from diverse sources; strong domestic production as well as imports through stable trade routes. We produce 60% of all the food we need, and 74% of food which we can grow or rear in the UK for all or part of the year. Through international trade, UK consumers have access to food products that cannot be produced here, or at least not on a year-round basis. This supplements domestic production, and also ensures that any disruption from risks such as adverse weather or disease does not affect the UK's overall security of supply.

This year, early season grass growth has generally been sufficient for good cutting and grazing, with some regional variation. Whilst growth in some areas is now being impacted by the hot dry conditions, this is not unusual at this point in the summer and livestock farmers have a range of options available to them when grass growth declines. Some farmers will need to supplement livestock diets with additional conserved forage or cereals based feeds, but good early silage cuts and the current strong prices for the dairy, beef and sheep sectors should help support this. Promising forage maize crops across the majority of the UK should further bolster winter forage stocks when the maize harvest commences in the coming months.

The Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board’s first harvest report of the 2022/23 season reports that the dry weather has enabled farmers to make a good start on the winter barley and oilseed rape harvest, particularly in southern and eastern regions of England, and where possible on winter wheat. To overcome the high temperatures, farmers have been working late at night and early in the morning and grain cooling has been required. It is still too early to understand whether the hot weather has impacted yields or crop conditions.

Defra has well established ways of working with the industry and across Government to monitor risks that may arise. This includes extensive, regular and ongoing engagement in preparedness for, and response to, issues with the potential to cause disruption to food supply chains.

We continue to keep the weather situation and any subsequent impact on grass growth and the arable harvest under close review, including through the UK Agriculture Market Monitoring Group, which Defra and the Devolved Administrations set up to monitor the UK market situation across all key agricultural commodities. We have also increased engagement with the industry to supplement Government analysis with real-time intelligence. This provides the Government with the best possible intelligence on how the sector is performing.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
19th Jul 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, whether the Government has plans to replace combined turbot and brill and witch and lemon sole total allowable catches (TACs) with single species TACs in the context of recent scientific advice published by ICES that multi-species TACs prevent effective management.

We have asked ICES to update its advice from 2018 on the effectiveness of management arrangements for these stocks which are managed by joint TACs. ICES have indicated their advice will be available during the autumn and we expect to make it our policy for the annual fisheries negotiation with the EU to manage these stocks based on the updated advice provided by ICES. This request to ICES is an example of the work we are doing through the Specialised Committee for Fisheries to address challenges where we think new or different advice is needed.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
8th Jul 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps he is taking to improve the UK's biosecurity.

Biosecurity remains a top priority for the Government, not only to protect consumers, but also to ensure that trading partners and industry have strong assurance of the UK's standards of food safety, animal and plant health.

On 16 February 2022, the Government also announced the allocation of £200 million for a programme of investment into world-leading research facilities to boost the UK’s fight against zoonotic diseases, including avian flu and bovine tuberculosis. The money will be spent on a state-of-the-art revamp of the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) scientific laboratories at Weybridge – enhancing the UK’s already world-leading scientific and veterinary capability.

We have established mechanisms in place to stop products from being exported to Great Britain from known areas with a significant pest or disease. We also constantly review whether further safeguards are needed and have a scientific process to assess and respond to changing biosecurity threats.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
19th Jul 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, which species the UK considers to be forage fish; and whether the Government will adopt a more precautionary approach to the management of the species based on their wider ecological importance.

Forage fish are important to the ecosystem as they provide food for predator fish and sea birds. We are reviewing our policy on forage fish that are caught for industrial purposes. In the context of the Northeast Atlantic, there are specific fleet segments that specialise in this type of fishing, and their effort within UK waters is targeted on particular species, principally sandeel and Norway pout.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
19th Jul 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, in light of recent scientific advice published by ICES, whether the Government will (a) support a position of zero catch of blackspot seabream, (b) introduce additional unilateral measures for their conservation in UK waters and (c) introduce closures to protect spawning sites.

Blackspot seabream (western red seabream) is recognised as seriously depleted by the International Council for Exploration of the Sea (ICES). The recent catch advice issued by ICES, for zero catches of blackspot seabream, will form a central part of the UK position for this stock for the forthcoming consultations. This approach is consistent with the UK’s commitments to make the best use of scientific advice for the management of fishing activities. Blackspot seabream is a shared stock with the EU. The UK and EU are developing improved management measures to support its long-term recovery through the Specialised Committee on Fisheries.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
12th Jul 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what plans he has to (a) take steps to mitigate the impact of climate change on (i) agriculture and (ii) global food security and (b) revitalise the international trade of food in the context of the effect on global food production of (A) the international response to covid-19 and (B) global warming.

The Government is committed to take action to mitigate climate change and to adapt to its impact. We are introducing three schemes that reward environmental benefits: the Sustainable Farming Incentive, Local Nature Recovery and Landscape Recovery. Together, these schemes are intended to provide a powerful vehicle for achieving the goals of the 25 Year Environment Plan and our commitment to net zero emissions by 2050, while supporting our rural economy. Through them, farmers and other land managers may enter into agreements to be paid for delivering public goods including adaptation to and mitigation of climate change.

The Government has also published the Net Zero Strategy which sets the UK on a clear path to net zero by 2050 and set out key commitments such as ensuring 75% of farmers in England will be engaged in low carbon practices by 2030, rising to 85% by 2035. More recently in the Food Strategy we have set out the funding available for innovation in farming and agriculture.

The UK announced an Agriculture Breakthrough goal at COP26 - "to make climate-resilient, sustainable agriculture the most attractive and widely adopted option for farmers everywhere by 2030" - and the intention to build country support for this in 2022. This is part of the Breakthrough Agenda which was launched at the COP26 World Leaders Summit. The Breakthrough Agenda is a commitment from countries to work together internationally this decade to accelerate the development and deployment of the clean technologies needed to meet our Paris climate goals, ensuring they are affordable and accessible for all.

The UK provides funding to the CGIAR, the world's leading agricultural science and innovation organisation, which delivers cutting edge technology and evidence-based solutions to tackle global challenges in the food system, saving and improving millions of lives. CGIAR research is projected to deliver a reduction of 0.6 gigatonnes CO2e each year by 2030. CGIAR rice innovations alone have scope to reduce global emissions by 0.5% - equivalent to 40% of total UK emissions.

The Government has also announced specific measures to support farmers with rising input costs including changes to statutory guidance to the "Farming Rules for Water"; increased grants funding to boost R&D; and bringing the Basic Payment Scheme forward so that 50% of its payments are made this summer to improve cash flow for farmers.

The Food Standards Agency has provided guidance to Trading Standards Officers and businesses setting out how flexibility in enforcement of labelling rules may be applied to alleviate supply challenges and maintain supply of foods into retail. Feedback has been that industry welcomes these actions, and the main ask going forward is for us to carefully review the supply situation before reverting to a 'full compliance' model of enforcement.

Defra is taking a number of actions to maintain food security and reduce pressures on prices. The Government launched a package of measures to reduce the impact of cost of living concerns, including: nine new GMO authorisations to provide alternative sources for maize, removing tariffs on US maize, bringing forward BPS payments for farmers and delaying measures that would have imposed costs on businesses.

Furthermore, G7 Leaders have pledged to provide increased humanitarian assistance with priority recipients should include countries facing acute food insecurity (for example Afghanistan, Somalia and Yemen), and countries facing potential food riots (such as Egypt).

The UK’s ambitious Free Trade Agreement programme diversifies sources of supply, contributes to our food security and resilience and supplements our strong domestic production.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
14th Jul 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, whether he has had recent discussions with representatives of the agricultural industry on the impact of the rising cost of (a) fuel, (b) grains and (c) fertiliser on that sector.

The UK's food supply is highly resilient. Defra has well established ways of working with the industry and across Government to monitor risks that may arise. This includes extensive, regular and ongoing engagement in preparedness for, and response to, issues with the potential to cause disruption to food supply chains.

Agricultural commodity prices are closely linked to global gas prices. Farmers are facing increased input costs including for fertiliser, feed and fuel. We are working closely with the industry to identify where further mitigations are available to tackle the challenges they face.

The Secretary of State recently announced a range of measures in support of the current situation, such as delaying changes to the use of urea fertiliser to help farmers manage their costs and improving statutory guidance for use of slurry. There have been three meetings of the Fertiliser Taskforce (the latest of which was on 21 July) with key industry bodies to discuss potential mitigations to the challenges which global supply pressures are causing. Ministers will continue to meet with key industry bodies for further Fertiliser Taskforce sessions in the coming months, to help identify and mitigate potential risks.

In addition, the 2022 Basic Payment Scheme payment will be made in two instalments to give farmers an advance injection of cash. Farmers with eligible applications will receive half of their payment from the end of July, and the rest from December. By doing this, the Government intends to inject cash into farm businesses, helping them to make business decisions sooner, with more confidence.

We continue to keep the market situation under review through the UK Agriculture Market Monitoring Group, which monitors UK agricultural markets including price, supply, inputs, trade and recent developments.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
15th Jul 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment his Department has made of the potential merits of altering the existing Export Health Certificate requirements so that monthly compliance attestations from EU suppliers can be accepted as part of the sign-off requirements for those certificates for imported meat goods from the EU into Great Britain.

Health certification is a biosecurity measure related to the consignment subject to export. The certification conditions relate to physical parameters for a specific consignment such as vaccination, health tests status, time of slaughter, production details and disease status at time of production.

The certifying Official Veterinarian signs the certificate to confirm the status of the consignment. The act of signing their name on documents should be approached with care and accuracy. An Official Veterinarian would not be able to put their name to a consignment, for example, at the start of the month covering products that might be produced and shipped later that month as they would not have the necessary data to support their signature and professional responsibility.

We are keeping our GB import certification requirements under review to minimise the burden on trade while maintaining our high biosecurity standards.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
13th Jul 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, whether his Department has taken steps to assess the impact on supply chains of additional agri-good paperwork for the importation of olive oil from the EU for independent retailers.

Defra routinely engages with stakeholders on a wide range of food issues including olive oil, but has not undertaken any formal assessment on this point.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
19th Jul 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they plan to consult with local authorities on a long-term plan for dealing with future climate change events causing (1) extreme heat, and (2) flooding.

We are consulting local authorities on the development of the UK's third National Adaptation Programme (NAP3). This is our long-term plan for building a more climate resilient country and our response to the latest assessment of UK climate risks, which is due for publication in 2023 and will run until 2028. This programme will address the advice contained in the third and latest assessment of UK climate risk (CCRA3) from January 2022, which included 61 climate risks and opportunities to the UK, including those related to overheating and floods.

We are primarily consulting local authorities through the Local Adaptation Advisory Panel, a Defra-hosted forum focused on climate adaptation issues that brings together central and local government, as well as via the Local Government Association. We are also engaging with groups like the Environment Board of the local representative organisation the Association of Directors of Environment, Economy, Planning and Transport (ADEPT).

This work builds on previous central-local government collaboration on the development of previous NAPs, including NAP2. NAP2, published in 2018 and running until 2023, includes actions for local government

Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
20th Jul 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to develop the fine particulate matter (PM2.5) monitoring network in order to monitor the progress made towards achieving the air pollution targets set under the Environment Act 2021.

As part of our work to assess progress towards the new PM2.5 targets, we have already invested £1m to expand the PM2.5 monitoring network in 2021/22, and have added 17 monitoring sites (as of July 2022) to the existing 63 (December 2021). By the end of 2025 we will have invested a further £10m to at least double the size of the original PM2.5 network.

Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
21st Jul 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the impact of the current outbreak of avian flu on wild bird populations.

Defra is working with Devolved Administrations, Arm’s Length Bodies and NGOs to monitor and respond to the effect of avian influenza on wild birds. This includes providing advice on mitigation measures that can be put in place to both protect public health and the impact on wild birds where possible. However, avian influenza is a natural transmission process in wild birds and there is limited evidence that mitigation measures are effective at reducing transmission of avian influenza between wild birds. We will, however, continue to take whatever action we can, in accordance with international best practice and the latest evidence.

The Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) operates a robust programme of wild bird surveillance across Great Britain and engages in year-round avian influenza surveillance of dead wild birds submitted via public reports and warden patrols. Between 25 October 2021 and 22 July 2022, over 3,000 wild birds have been tested. Of these, 1454 have tested positive for H5 Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI). There have been findings in 347 different locations in 61 different species in 79 different counties. A report (updated weekly) of findings of HPAI in wild birds is published by APHA on GOV.UK together with outbreak and risk assessments. A copy of the 18 July outbreak assessment is attached to this answer

Unprecedented outbreaks of avian influenza are being seen in both Great Britain and Europe as well as North America. In Great Britain there have been large numbers of deaths associated with positive findings of avian influenza in breeding populations of seabird species. Including those listed as GB Birds of Conservation Concern (BoCC5) (copy attached). The impact on Roseate Terns (red-listed BoCC5 species) and Sandwich Terns (amber-listed BoCC5 species) colonies in particular are of significant concern.

The UK’s seabirds are an important part of our natural heritage, and their protection is a high priority for the government. Defra recognises the significant threat HPAI is posing to our seabird populations Further to the existing Joint Nature Conservation Committee Seabird Monitoring Programme, Natural England has set up a seabird reporting system to collate records of mortality levels in key seabird colonies which will be used to support assessments of the impact on populations and inform recovery programmes. Equivalent systems have been established in Wales and Scotland enabling data to be readily compared across the administrations.

Lord Benyon
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
14th Jul 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government, what assessment they have made of the current level of water supply given the heatwave in parts of the UK; and what plans they have to deal with any shortage of supply.

Water companies are reporting that water storage levels are adequate for supply this summer. Water companies have a statutory duty to provide a secure supply of wholesome water at all times. They are legally required to have robust plans in place to maintain the supply of water in a range of hazards, including heatwaves.

Water companies use a range of measures to manage higher water demand expected during heatwaves and respond to any disruption. These measures include ensuring their networks are prepared, customer communications to help manage demand, rerouting of water via their networks, and the provision of alternative water supplies, for example via tanker deliveries. In the event of disruptions, water companies also maintain priority access registers, which vulnerable customers can register with for provision of bottled water.

The Government is communicating frequently with water companies to monitor their performance and reiterate the importance of maintaining supplies to customers.

Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
15th Jul 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to increase monitoring of wild bird populations in light of the influx of H5N1 avian flu infections; and what steps they are taking to protect (1) vulnerable, and (2) threatened, populations.

Defra is working with Devolved Administrations, Arm’s Length Bodies and NGOs to monitor and respond to the effect of avian influenza on wild birds. This includes providing advice on mitigation measures that can be put in place to both protect public health and the impact on wild birds where possible. However, avian influenza is a natural transmission process in wild birds and there is limited evidence that mitigation measures are effective at reducing transmission of avian influenza between wild birds.

In addition to the existing avian influenza biosecurity stakeholder meetings that have been running since 2020 and have included ornithological NGO participation, Defra will convene a stakeholder working group to consider additional actions that can be taken to support the recovery of wild bird populations that have been significantly impacted by the disease. Defra is also engaging with OSPAR Heads of Delegation to share best practice, mitigation measures and lessons learnt from current and previous outbreaks.

The Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) operates a robust programme of wild bird surveillance across Great Britain and engages in year-round avian influenza surveillance of dead wild birds submitted via public reports and warden patrols. Between 25 October 2021 and 8 July 2022, over 3,000 wild birds have been tested. Of these, 1422 have tested positive for H5 Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI). There have been findings in 343 different locations in 61 different species in 78 different counties. A report (updated weekly) of findings of HPAI in wild birds is published on GOV.UK together with outbreak and risk assessments. A copy of the 18 July assessment is attached to this answer.

Last month a new consortium was launched, led by Defra and APHA, to fund research to look into how avian influenza viruses are emerging in wild populations and help us understand the risk posed to both domestic and wild birds.

Additionally, Defra has commissioned Natural England to assess the vulnerability of seabird species in light of the pressures they are facing, including avian influenza, and propose actions to address them.

Lord Benyon
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
21st Jul 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park on 24 March (HL6855), in which he said that stakeholder engagement on the outline of Soil Health Action Plan for England (SHAPE) would start in the spring, and that stakeholder engagement not yet having commenced, when they will announce the timeline for that engagement.

The Government recognises the importance of stakeholder engagement for the development of a strategic and coherent plan for soil health measures. Further details regarding planned engagement with stakeholders on the importance of soil and the actions needed to ensure it remains a healthy and sustainable resource, will be published soon.

Lord Benyon
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
21st Jul 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government how many times African swine fever has been identified in imported products in each of the last three years.

ASF virus can be present in the meat and bone marrow of contaminated products from infected animals. We have regionalisation in place for ASF for some countries, and there are rules in place for products from an ASF disease restriction zone or an ASF endemic country to be exported. Therefore, a non-processed product from an ASF disease restriction zone or an ASF endemic country is usually considered to be a non-compliant import and should be destroyed.

Defra does not routinely test for ASF virus in imported commodities.

Lord Benyon
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
18th Jul 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, whether his Department (a) has made an assessment of the environmental impact of disposable vapes and (b) plans to introduce recycling schemes designed to reduce the amount of electrical waste produced by those products.

The Department has not undertaken an assessment of the environmental impact of disposable vapes in the UK.

The Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) regulations place obligations on producers of electrical products to finance the collection and treatment of those products when they become waste. This would include disposable vapes.

At present, consumers are able to dispose of their electrical waste at a local household recycling centre or via retailer take back channels, where these are available.

Cigarette butts are one of the most frequently littered items. In a recent survey commissioned by Defra, they accounted for 66% of the total number of litter items collected.

Steve Double
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
19th Jul 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps he is taking to protect coastal areas from litter.

I refer the hon. Member to the answer given on 25 July 2022 to PQ 38548.

Steve Double
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
19th Jul 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps his Department is taking to (a) reduce littering offences and (b) protect coastal areas from litter.

I refer the hon. Member to the answer given on 25 July 2022 to PQ 38548.

Steve Double
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
19th Jul 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, how many cases of bird flu have been found in the UK as of 19 July 2022.

As of 19 July 2022, 125 cases of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) H5N1 have been confirmed in poultry and other captive birds in the UK (103 cases in England, 5 cases in Wales, 11 cases in Scotland, 6 cases in Northern Ireland).

In addition, through the Animal and Plant Health Agencies wild bird surveillance scheme as of 19 July 2022, there have been 1422 findings of avian influenza in wild birds, in 343 locations involving 61 bird species in 78 counties. This includes carcases collected and submitted to APHA for testing up to the 8 July 2022. Findings of avian influenza in wild birds have predominantly been of the HPAI H5N1 strain with a single finding of HPAI H5N8.

We have a robust response in place in line with international best practice and continue to work with stakeholders to keep up to date with the latest evidence and any further steps that we can take.

Further details of findings of HPAI in wild birds and details of confirmed cases in poultry and other captive birds are published on GOV.UK/bird-flu.

Steve Double
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
19th Jul 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, whether his Department has any plans to bring forward legislative proposals on the use of volatile organic compounds in (a) paints and (b) other coatings.

The UK is currently meeting, and on track to meet, the 2030 statutory emissions ceilings for volatile organic compounds. We are not considering legislative changes at this stage.

Steve Double
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
19th Jul 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, if he will make an assessment of the potential impact of Shell's proposal to commence seismic blasting on the Wild Coast of South Africa on (a) whales and (b) other marine life in that area.

The issue of seismic exploration off the east coast of South Africa is before the judiciary in South Africa. The UK will continue to track developments.

Steve Double
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
18th Jul 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, on how many occasions he and Ministers from his Department have visited chalk streams since 1 April 2022.

Several present and former Defra ministers are lucky to have globally rare chalk streams in their constituencies and visit them regularly. I intend to visit a chalk stream at my earliest opportunity following recess.

Steve Double
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
18th Jul 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, whether his Department has carried out an impact assessment on the potential impact of sewage discharged in areas at risk of drought.

There are currently nine Environment Agency (EA) operational areas (Yorkshire, West Midlands, East Anglia, Lincolnshire and Northamptonshire, Thames, Wessex, East Midlands, Solent and South Downs, and Devon and Cornwall) that are experiencing prolonged dry weather, which is the early stage of drought. The EA has provided advice to water companies to reduce the potential impact of this on wastewater treatment as well as any potential use of sewage overflows, should there be any imminent heavy rainfall.

Steve Double
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
8th Jul 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, if he will make an estimate of the number of trees that have been planted through Government-funded schemes in each year since 2019.

The Forestry Commission produces statistics on all new planting of woodland for the UK. These can be found in Forestry Statistics and in Provisional Woodland Statistics: 2021 edition on the Forest Research website. These statistics are reported for each financial year in thousands of hectares. The latest available figures are for 2021-22.

Steve Double
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
18th Jul 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps he has taken to ensure the UK was adequately prepared for the level 4 alert issued for 18 and 19 July 2022 under the Heatwave Plan for England.

Water companies have a statutory duty to provide a continuous supply of wholesome water. They are legally required to have robust plans in place to maintain the supply of water in a range of hazards, including heatwaves. Water companies use a range of measures to manage higher water demand expected during heatwaves and respond to any disruption. These measures include ensuring their networks are prepared, customer communications to help manage demand, re-routing of water via their networks, and the provision of alternative water supplies, for example via tanker deliveries. In the event of disruptions, water companies also maintain priority access registers, which vulnerable customers can register with for provision of bottled water.

We issued reminders to animal owners that it is their responsibility to have plans in place to ensure their animals' welfare in extreme weather. This included publishing content on protecting companion animals in hot weather, and direct messaging from the Chief Veterinary Officer and the Animal and Plant Health Agency focused on transporting livestock and horses. Comprehensive guidance is available online at https://www.gov.uk/guidance/keeping-farm-animals-and-horses-in-extreme-weather on protecting animals in hot weather, including advice on checking on animals more regularly, ensuring all animals have easy access to water on a daily basis, and not transporting animals in temperatures over 30 degrees.

The UK has a highly resilient food supply chain, built on supply from diverse sources including strong domestic production as well as imports through stable trade routes ensuring that any disruption from risks such as adverse weather or disease does not affect the UK's overall security of supply. Defra has well-established ways of working with the industry and across Government to monitor risks that may arise. We continue to keep the extreme weather situation under close review, including through the UK Agriculture Market Monitoring Group, which Defra and the Devolved Administrations set up to monitor the UK market situation across all key agricultural commodities. We have also increased engagement with the industry to supplement Government analysis with real-time intelligence. This provides the Government with the best possible intelligence on how the sector is performing.

Given the health threat and the impacts observed in summer 2021, additional work has been taken forward by the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) and the Department of Health and Social Care to raise awareness of the health consequences of hot weather and enable professionals, organisations and individuals to plan, mitigate and respond to hot weather episodes effectively. These include:

  • Updating the materials related to hot weather risks on the Heatwave Plan for England collection page. These provide sector specific guidance on actions to take during a heatwave to safeguard patients and service users.
  • Publishing the 2022 Heatwave communications toolkit and social media assets which have been shared with UKHSA regional communications, cross-government partners and local government to support consistent and clear messaging on heat-health.
  • Holding a Heatwave and Summer Preparedness Stakeholder event in April 2022 to around 1000 participants across the health and social care sector and other Government departments to allow them to take early mitigating action.
  • The Extreme Heat National Severe Weather Warning Service (NSWWS) warnings, operated by the Met Office, are intended to warn the public and emergency responders and include the impacts of severe heat outside of the health sector. An Extreme Heat NSWWS will only be issued should a severe or prolonged hot weather episode be forecast.
  • Ensuring all Local Resilience Forums have the guidance, sector specific action sheets and related resources from the Heatwave Plan for England before summer to allow time for incorporation into their wider planning for summer 2022.
  • UKHSA weekly situational awareness meetings with the Met Office feeding into the cross-government Summer Resilience Network, chaired by the Cabinet Office to ensure awareness and a wider system response across the Government.

Steve Double
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
6th Jul 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, whether it remains his Department's policy to ban hand-held remote controlled e-collar devices following the 2018 review of the Animal Welfare Act 2006 which recommended a ban on those devices.

The proposed ban on the use of electric shock collars controlled by hand-held devices was developed after considering a broad range of factors, including the effects of such a ban. When considered alongside the academic research, the public consultation responses, and direct engagement with the sector, the Government concluded that these devices present a risk to the welfare of dogs and cats and that their use should be prohibited.

We continue to work closely with the animal welfare sector, enforcement agencies and Governments across the four nations on this ban, which will be made via secondary legislation under the Animal Welfare Act 2006. The legislation needed to ban electric shock collars controlled by hand-held devices in England will be laid before Parliament as soon as Parliamentary time allows.

Steve Double
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
15th Jul 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, if he will make an assessment of the effectiveness of his Department's policies for reducing light pollution.

We take a broad approach to tackling all impacts on biodiversity, such as artificial light, and have indicators set out through the 25 Year Environment Plan reporting mechanisms which assess the effectiveness of this wider work towards nature recovery.

Steve Double
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
18th Jul 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, whether he has made an assessment of the adequacy of the supply and provision of drinking water for people in town and city centres during periods of extreme heat.

Water companies in England are reporting that water storage levels are adequate for water supply this summer, including for the supply of drinking water in towns and cities. Water companies have a statutory duty to provide a secure supply of wholesome water at all times, in particular for essential uses, such as the provision of drinking water. Water companies are legally required to have robust plans in place to maintain the supply of water in a range of hazards, including heatwaves.

Water companies use a range of measures to manage higher water demand expected during heatwaves and respond to any disruption. These measures include ensuring their networks are prepared, customer communications to help manage demand, re-routing of water via their networks, and the provision of alternative water supplies, for example via tanker deliveries. In the event of disruptions, water companies also maintain priority access registers, which vulnerable customers can register with for provision of bottled water.

The Government is communicating frequently with water companies to monitor their performance and re-iterate the importance of maintaining supplies to customers.

Water companies also support the Refill campaign, a scheme which makes it easier for people to find places to refill water bottles, wherever they are, shops, businesses, fountains and transport hubs, for free.

Steve Double
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)