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)

Labour
Baroness Jones of Whitchurch (LAB - Life peer)
Shadow 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)
Ruth Jones (LAB - Newport West)
Shadow Minister (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
Olivia Blake (LAB - Sheffield, Hallam)
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
Rebecca Pow (CON - Taunton Deane)
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
Lord Benyon (CON - Life peer)
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
Jo Churchill (CON - Bury St Edmunds)
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
Scheduled Event
Friday 3rd December 2021
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Legislation - Main Chamber
Education (Environment and Sustainable Citizenship) Bill [HL] - committee stage
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Scheduled Event
Monday 6th December 2021
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Legislation - Main Chamber
Animal Welfare (Sentience) Bill [HL] – report stage
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Scheduled Event
Thursday 9th December 2021
09:30
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Oral questions - Main Chamber
9 Dec 2021, 9:30 a.m.
Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (including Topical Questions)
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Scheduled Event
Monday 13th December 2021
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Legislation - Main Chamber
Animal Welfare (Sentience) Bill [HL] – third reading
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Debates
Tuesday 30th November 2021
Select Committee Docs
Friday 7th January 2022
00:00
Call for Evidence
Call For Evidence
Select Committee Inquiry
Tuesday 16th November 2021
Rural mental health

Improving the quality of mental health provision has been an increasing priority for the Government and the NHS in recent …

Written Answers
Wednesday 1st December 2021
Agriculture: Soil
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps his Department is taking to help …
Secondary Legislation
Tuesday 23rd November 2021
Wine (Amendment) Regulations 2021
These Regulations are made in exercise of the powers conferred by the European Union (Future Relationship) Act 2020 (c. 29) …
Bills
Tuesday 8th June 2021
Animal Welfare (Kept Animals) Bill 2021-22
A Bill to make provision about the welfare of certain kept animals that are in, imported into, or exported from …
Dept. Publications
Wednesday 1st December 2021
10:00

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.

Most Recent Commons Appearances by Category
Oct. 28
Oral Questions
Oct. 28
Urgent Questions
Nov. 30
Westminster Hall
View All Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Commons Contibutions

Bills currently before Parliament

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs does not have Bills currently before Parliament


Acts of Parliament created in the 2019 Parliament


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 Tuesday 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 Monday 23rd November 2020 and was enacted into law.


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

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs - Secondary Legislation

These Regulations are made in exercise of the powers conferred by the European Union (Future Relationship) Act 2020 (c. 29) in order to implement Articles 3, 4(3) and 5 of Annex 15 (trade in wine) to the Trade and Cooperation Agreement between the European Union and the European Atomic Energy Community and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (“the TCA”) and to deal with matters related to the implementation of Article 3 of that Annex.
These Regulations make amendments to the Products Containing Meat etc. (England) Regulations 2014 (S.I. 2014/3001) and the Food (Amendment and Transitional Provisions) (England) Regulations 2021 (S.I. 2021/616).
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
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(4,291 in the last 7 days)
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(1,048 in the last 7 days)
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(870 in the last 7 days)
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(331 in the last 7 days)
Petitions with most signatures
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108,105 Signatures
(331 in the last 7 days)
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91,714 Signatures
(870 in the last 7 days)
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85,679 Signatures
(187 in the last 7 days)
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
Neil Parish Portrait
Neil Parish (Conservative - Tiverton and Honiton)
Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee Chair since 27th January 2020
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
Dave Doogan Portrait
Dave Doogan (Scottish National Party - Angus)
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

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

23rd Nov 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what recent progress he has made on implementing the recommendations of the Taskforce on Innovation, Growth and Regulatory Reform relevant to his Department.

Defra is the lead department for a number of recommendations in the Taskforce on Innovation, Growth and Regulatory Reform (TIGRR) report, concerning agri-environmental innovation, including biodiversity offsetting and greater use of agri-tech vital for sustainability, biodiversity, food security and investment.

Four measures responding to these recommendations were included in Lord Frost’s package of proposed individual regulatory reforms to laws in September: Reform of the regulation of gene-edited organisms, Biodiversity Net Gain, Digitisation of Export Health Certificates and rationalising the existing Environmental Permitting and Licensing regimes.

I am pleased to say strong progress continues to be made with each of these measures:

  • The Government response to the Gene Editing consultation was published in September, setting out how we plan to pave the way to enable use of gene editing technologies on plants, where genetic changes could have occurred naturally or could have been a result of traditional breeding methods.
  • The Environment Act, which is the legislative vehicle for Biodiversity Net Gain, has now received Royal Assent. A consultation on Biodiversity Net gain is expected to be published shortly.
  • Trials of some e-certification systems for Digitisation of Export Health certificates are currently underway, with solutions expected to be delivered in 2022.
  • Defra is continuing to develop proposals for reform of environmental licensing and permitting, with a view to ensuring that our regimes are streamlined, proportionate and deliver effective environmental protection.
Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
23rd Nov 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, with reference to the Government's proposals to deregulate gene editing, announced on 29 September 2021, what criteria he plans to use to determine whether an organism produced by gene editing or another technology could have been produced by traditional breeding or not.

The Government plans to take a science-based proportionate approach to the regulation of genetic technologies including gene editing. We are seeking advice from our Advisory Committee on Releases to the Environment (ACRE) on the criteria used to determine whether an organism produced by gene editing or another technology could have been produced by traditional breeding. We are also looking at the criteria used by other countries, gathering information from stakeholder engagement and views provided in the responses to our consultation on the regulation of genetic technologies.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
25th Nov 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment he has made of the accuracy of the recent finding by Surfers Against Sewage that there has been an increase of 87.6 per cent in sewage discharge notifications over the last 12 months.

The Environment Agency (EA) does not have access to the Surfers Against Sewage notification dataset and therefore cannot comment on the accuracy of spill notifications made by Water and Sewerage Companies (WaSCs) to third party organisations. We expect that, as this data is provided in near real time to Surfers Against Sewage, there will have been limited opportunity for WaSCs to quality assure the raw data to confirm that all the alerts have resulted in spills.

The number of Event Duration Monitors has increased substantially over the last few years to cover over 80% of overflows, and will provide complete coverage by 2023. For that reason, the number of spill notifications has gone up. However, the Government has been clear that the number of spills is unacceptable and has made tackling this a priority. We are therefore the first Government to take concerted action to tackle this historic infrastructure issue, including through the Environment Act.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
25th Nov 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment he has made of the accuracy of Surfers Against Sewage's recent finding that there has been an increase of 87.6 per cent in sewage discharge notifications over the last 12 months.

The Environment Agency (EA) does not have access to the Surfers Against Sewage notification dataset and therefore cannot comment on the accuracy of spill notifications made by Water and Sewerage Companies (WaSCs) to third party organisations. We expect that, as this data is provided in near real time to Surfers Against Sewage, there will have been limited opportunity for WaSCs to quality assure the raw data to confirm that all the alerts have resulted in spills.

The number of Event Duration Monitors has increased substantially over the last few years to cover over 80% of overflows, and will provide complete coverage by 2023. For that reason, the number of spill notifications has gone up. However, the Government has been clear that the number of spills is unacceptable and has made tackling this a priority. We are therefore the first Government to take concerted action to tackle this historic infrastructure issue, including through the Environment Act.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
23rd Nov 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, when he plans to respond to the letter dated 22 September 2021 from the hon. Member for West Lancashire, reference ZA57747.

A reply was sent to the hon. Member on 25 November 2021.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
23rd Nov 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment he has made of the potential for farm conversion of agri-food bio-wastes into bioenergy in the UK.

This is a devolved matter and the information provided therefore relates to England only. We are interpreting this question as a request for information on the Government’s assessment of the role that anaerobic digestion (AD) can play in both treating food wastes and generating bioenergy.

I recognise the valuable contribution that wastes, including food derived wastes, can make towards our carbon targets when used in AD to produce biogas and biomethane.

The recently closed non-domestic Renewable Heat Incentive (NDRHI) provided financial support for AD plants, including on farms. As of December 2020, the NDRHI has supported 95 biomethane to grid plants and in 2019 supported the production of ~3.6TWh of biomethane injected into the gas grid. In 2018, the NDRHI changed to include a waste feedstock minimum threshold of 50%, to incentivise the use of wastes in the production of biomethane. The Green Gas Support Scheme, due to launch on 30 November 2021, is a successor to the biomethane element of the NDRHI and will maintain this minimum threshold.

Evidence indicates that the existing stock of AD plants, including on farms, may have the capacity to treat more food waste. As such, we are assessing the potential to increase waste that goes to AD.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
23rd Nov 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, pursuant to the Answer of 23 November 2021 to Question 75126 on UN Climate Conference 2021: Government, how many Ministers in his Department travelled to COP26 by airplane.

No Defra Minister travelled to COP26 by aeroplane.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
23rd Nov 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps his Department is taking to encourage local action by farmer groups to improve soil and water resource management in rural areas.

Supporting sustainable farming is a fundamental part of our Agricultural Transition Plan published last year. As part of that, we are introducing three schemes that reward the delivery of environmental benefits: the Sustainable Farming Incentive, the Local Nature Recovery scheme and the Landscape Recovery scheme.  Together, they will be an important vehicle in delivering our 25 Year Environment Plan ambitions and our carbon net zero goals. The schemes will reward farmers for, for example, sustainable farming practices, improving animal health, welfare, and creating, managing, and preserving habitats including freshwater habitats and habitats that store water.

We have already confirmed that the Sustainable Farming Incentive will pay farmers for management practices that improve soil health by improving soil structure, soil organic matter, and soil biology. More detail on the Local Nature and Landscape Recovery schemes will be published shortly.

Through our new Farming Transformation Fund, Water Management Theme, we are offering support for farmers to secure their water supplies though the construction of on-farm reservoirs. We will also help improve the more efficient use of water through irrigation, by offering support for best-practice application equipment, such as boom or trickle irrigators.

We are exploring the approaches to how best to support collaboration, learning from examples such as the Countryside Stewardship Facilitation Fund.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
23rd Nov 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps his Department takes to ensure that at least one official from his Department is present during all (a) meetings and (b) phone calls relating to Government business between Ministers and third parties.

Ministers holding meetings or phone calls on Government business are routinely accompanied by a private secretary or other official, in line with the expectations of paragraph 8.14 of the Ministerial Code.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
23rd Nov 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, if he will publish a (a) list of the companies his Department has engaged in the delivery and operation of inland border control posts and (b) a timetable for any contracts awarded for that purpose.

Defra has engaged Mott MacDonald under contract to provide Design Assurance services to support the delivery of the Sevington Border Control Post (BCP) and the Dover Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) BCP. Their contract in support of Sevington BCP currently runs until 31 January 2022 and their work in relation to Dover SPS BCP until 4 February 2022. The Department is also in the process of engaging other companies to support the delivery and operation of its three inland border control posts.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
23rd Nov 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps his Department is taking to help improve soil health on UK farms.

This is a devolved matter and the information provided therefore relates to England only.

The Sustainable Farming Incentive is one of three new schemes that reward farmers and land managers for producing public goods. The other, future, schemes are Local Nature Recovery and Landscape Recovery, both of which we will begin piloting next year. These schemes will operate together and pay for sustainable farming practices, improve animal health and welfare, improve environmental outcomes, and reduce carbon emissions. They will create habitats for nature recovery and make landscape-scale changes, such as establishing new woodland and other ecosystem services, providing key means to deliver against our 25 Year Environment Plan goals and carbon net zero targets.

Our approach to environmental land management is the cornerstone of our new agricultural policy and will be realised through a combination of schemes, using public money to reward farmers and land managers for delivering environmentally sustainable actions. The schemes are intended to provide a powerful vehicle for achieving the goals of the 25 Year Environment Plan and commitment to net zero emissions by 2050, while supporting our rural economy.

We agree that healthy soils should be a priority outcome for our new environmental land management schemes in England, and to help achieve our commitment to sustainably managed soils by 2030, we are already taking action to support land managers and farmers to achieve sustainable soil management. Firstly, we are focusing on soil in two of the first standards to be rolled out under the Sustainable Farming Incentive scheme next year – the Improved Grassland Soils and Arable and Horticultural Soils standards. Recently published details on the Sustainable Farming Incentive set out for which sustainable farming actions to improve soil health farmers will be rewarded, such as the introduction of herbal leys and the use of grass-legume mixtures and cover crops.

It makes sense to start the early roll out of the Sustainable Farming Incentive with these soils standards because healthy soils are the foundation of sustainable farming and underpin a range of environmental benefits, as well as production. The soil standards will be widely applicable and will therefore provide opportunity for many farmers to be rewarded for sustainable soil management. The standards and the overall scheme are designed to support a range of farmers; including those who are beginning to adopt sustainable practices as well as those who are already experienced in these, who will be rewarded for increasing the ambition of their land management. We will test these standards in the Sustainable Farming Incentive pilot and release further information on our plans for the Sustainable Farming Incentive on gov.uk in December 2021.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
23rd Nov 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, how many senior civil servants employed by his Department were based in each of the 12 NUTS1 regions of the UK on (a) 1 March 2019, (b) 1 March 2020, (c) 1 March 2021 and (d) 1 September 2021.

The number of SCS staff employed by the department by NUTS1 region is shown below:

31 Mar 2019

31 Mar 2020

31 Mar 2021

30 Sept 2021

London

124

120

128

140

South East

8

8

8

7

East of England

1

1

1

1

East Midlands

0

0

0

0

West Midlands

6

6

8

9

Yorkshire & Humber

5

5

6

5

North East

5

5

4

5

North West

3

3

5

8

South West

10

17

15

14

Wales

0

0

0

0

Scotland

0

0

0

0

Home

3

3

5

6

Grand Total

165

168

180

195

This data aligns with the data published under the Annual Civil Service Employment Survey (ACSES) which all government departments provide. This annual data is as at 31 March each year and provides the official headline National Statistics on the size, shape and structure of the Civil Service. The data for 30 September also aligns to ACSES.

We have also shown in the above table the number of home-based SCS staff.

ACSES data is available from Gov.UK and the links for each year are shown below:

2019 – https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/civil-service-statistics-2019

2020 – https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/civil-service-statistics-2020

2021 - https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/civil-service-statistics-2021

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
16th Nov 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the pressure on the management of non-quota species and the impact this will have on the UK Inshore Fisheries fleet.

There are over 200 non-quota species (NQS). We are working to develop our evidence base for the current management regime for NQS, which is complex and irregular in places. Some of our most valuable and vulnerable species are NQS and there would be a significant impact on the inshore fleet and other fishers if the stocks are not well managed.

We are looking at how best to improve management and believe that the Fisheries Management Plans offer the best way to do so, working with the EU where appropriate.

Lord Benyon
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
25th Nov 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, whether additional resources have been allocated to (a) Animal and Plant Health Agency and (b) other bodies to tackle the ongoing avian influenza outbreak.

The Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) has tried and tested contingency and outbreak response plans and these are currently working well in the face of the current outbreak. The plans include being able to draw on the support of culling and disposal contractors from contingency framework contracts and being able to deploy additional vets from the veterinary delivery partnership. APHA is also working closely with other agencies from within the Defra group to provide additional surge capacity as needed. The resourcing situation is kept under review during outbreaks.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
25th Nov 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, with reference to section 57 of the Environment Act 2021, whether all local authorities in England will be required to collect glass directly from households by October 2023.

The Environment Act will require all local authorities to collect glass, as well as metal, plastic, paper and card, food and garden waste.

In 2021 we published our second consultation on 'Consistency in Household and Business Recycling in England,' which sought views on increasing consistency in recycling. We expect to set out the government response to this consultation, which will include timelines for new requirements on local authorities, early next year.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
25th Nov 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what plans he has to update the Daily Air Quality Index to align it more closely with the new World Health Organisation air quality guidelines published on 22 September 2021.

We are conducting a holistic review of the way we communicate air quality information and advice. This will ensure the public is provided with timely and relevant information about air pollution, the actions people can take to limit their personal exposure, the impacts of air pollution on their health, and their own influence on air quality. The Daily Air Quality Index is included in the scope of this review.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
25th Nov 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what discussions he has had with relevant stakeholders on (a) implementing a place-based, community-centred approach to air pollution and (b) using that approach to protect low income communities who may experience higher exposure to air pollutants.

The improvement of air quality remains a priority for the Government. We are taking a range of actions to reduce air pollution, including through the landmark Environment Act 2021.

In line with commitments in the Act, we are currently reviewing the National Air Quality Strategy and will be publishing a revised Strategy in 2023. We aim to develop a strong support and capability-building framework to ensure local authorities have the necessary tools to take local action and to clarify the available powers and levers. The revised Strategy will also support greater local action to identify and address air pollution inequalities and reduce the impacts on vulnerable groups and communities disproportionately impacted by air pollution. Engagement with a wide range of stakeholders will be undertaken in coming months.

Through the Environment Act we are improving the Local Air Quality Management Framework, for example by broadening the range of bodies required to collaborate with local authorities in developing local Air Quality Action Plans. We are developing revised Local Air Quality Management statutory guidance in which we propose to include more emphasis on community engagement to increase public awareness of air quality issues, and additional information to support the consideration of air quality inequalities in local Air Quality Action Plans. We are engaging with a range of stakeholders, and especially local government as we develop and implement policies and guidance to support local action on air quality.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
16th Nov 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they will take to ensure that the UK fishing fleet will continue to have access to their natural fishing grounds so that fishing is not displaced by inshore windfarms.

The Government is committed to promoting a more competitive, profitable and sustainable fishing industry across the whole of the UK, and setting a gold standard for sustainable fishing around the world. We are also committed to delivering 40GW of offshore wind capacity by 2030 to deliver net zero. We recognise the spatial challenges this presents, for these industries and others.

Our existing English Marine Plans, which are in place for all English waters, seek to encourage opportunities for co-existence between fishing and other activities as well as promote new ways of working. However, we recognise that a greater level of spatial prioritisation may be required to enable this. A new cross-UK Government programme has been established to create a shared 2050 strategic vision for the marine environment. It will enable the Government to deliver on its commitments including net zero and sustainable fisheries.

This month, my department is also hosting a workshop with both the fishing and offshore wind industries to discuss the opportunities and challenges for co-location of activities.

Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
16th Nov 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government how they intend to engage Parliament in the scrutiny of the interim targets that will be set under section 11 of the Environment Act 2021.

The interim and long-term targets due to be set under the Environment Act will be subject to parliamentary scrutiny. Long-term targets will be set in statutory instruments subject to the affirmative procedure and our first suite of targets will be brought forward by 31 October 2022. Both Houses of Parliament will have the opportunity to scrutinise, debate and vote on the details and ambition of these targets.

We will be carrying out a public consultation on proposed long-term targets in early 2022. We will write to the chairs of the appropriate Select Committees in both Houses to update them before this launches.

Interim targets for the first suite of long-term targets will be included in the updated Environmental Improvement Plan, which be laid before both Houses of Parliament for scrutiny in early 2023.

Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
16th Nov 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to facilitate parliamentary scrutiny of the proposed long-term targets to be set under section 1 of the Environment Act 2021 before the statutory instruments to give those targets legal effect are laid in October 2022.

The interim and long-term targets due to be set under the Environment Act will be subject to parliamentary scrutiny. Long-term targets will be set in statutory instruments subject to the affirmative procedure and our first suite of targets will be brought forward by 31 October 2022. Both Houses of Parliament will have the opportunity to scrutinise, debate and vote on the details and ambition of these targets.

We will be carrying out a public consultation on proposed long-term targets in early 2022. We will write to the chairs of the appropriate Select Committees in both Houses to update them before this launches.

Interim targets for the first suite of long-term targets will be included in the updated Environmental Improvement Plan, which be laid before both Houses of Parliament for scrutiny in early 2023.

Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
22nd Nov 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what recent discussions he has had with his French counterpart on access to fisheries.

As the Trade and Co-operation Agreement is between the UK and the EU, any discussions arising from it take place between the UK and Commission, with Member States present as observers for some of those meetings as appropriate. Discussions at all levels are ongoing.

I met Annick Girardin, the French Fisheries Minister, to discuss this issue on 21 September and 21 October 2021.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
25th Nov 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps his Department is taking to ensure that the health of people participating in river-based activities, such as swimming, fishing and paddling, is not harmed by polluted water.

Improving water quality is a Government priority and we are taking significant action in this area for people and nature. The Environment Act sets a duty on the Government to publish a storm overflow discharge reduction plan by September 2022. This plan will address reducing the adverse impacts on public health of sewage discharges from storm overflows.

Where rivers are designated as Bathing Waters, the Environment Agency monitors water quality and classifies bathing waters in line with the health protective standards of the Bathing Water Regulations (2013) and publishes an annual classification of Poor, Sufficient, Good or Excellent. It must also exercise its pollution control powers to achieve at least Sufficient status. Currently there is one river with designated Bathing Water Status, the River Wharfe at Ilkley. This was monitored for the first time during the 2021 Bathing Water Season (15th May - 30th September). The classification result will be published in January 2022.

The Environment Agency publishes a profile for each designated Bathing Water on its Swimfo website (https://environment.data.gov.uk/bwq/profiles/), which provides water quality testing results, the annual classification and information on pollution sources affecting each Bathing Water.

The Environment Agency and the UK Health Security Agency (formerly Public Health England) have published Swim Healthy guidance on Gov.UK

(https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/swim-healthy-leaflet).

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
25th Nov 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps he is taking to ensure that water in English rivers, lakes and seas does not pose a serious risk to human health.

Improving water quality is a Government priority and we are taking significant action in this area for people and nature. The Environment Act sets a duty on the Government to publish a storm overflow discharge reduction plan by September 2022. This plan will address reducing the adverse impacts on public health of sewage discharges from storm overflows.

Where rivers are designated as Bathing Waters, the Environment Agency monitors water quality and classifies bathing waters in line with the health protective standards of the Bathing Water Regulations (2013) and publishes an annual classification of Poor, Sufficient, Good or Excellent. It must also exercise its pollution control powers to achieve at least Sufficient status. Currently there is one river with designated Bathing Water Status, the River Wharfe at Ilkley. This was monitored for the first time during the 2021 Bathing Water Season (15th May - 30th September). The classification result will be published in January 2022.

The Environment Agency publishes a profile for each designated Bathing Water on its Swimfo website (https://environment.data.gov.uk/bwq/profiles/), which provides water quality testing results, the annual classification and information on pollution sources affecting each Bathing Water.

The Environment Agency and the UK Health Security Agency (formerly Public Health England) have published Swim Healthy guidance on Gov.UK

(https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/swim-healthy-leaflet).

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
25th Nov 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps he is taking to ensure that rivers do not pose a risk to human health.

Improving water quality is a Government priority and we are taking significant action in this area for people and nature. The Environment Act sets a duty on the Government to publish a storm overflow discharge reduction plan by September 2022. This plan will address reducing the adverse impacts on public health of sewage discharges from storm overflows.

Where rivers are designated as Bathing Waters, the Environment Agency monitors water quality and classifies bathing waters in line with the health protective standards of the Bathing Water Regulations (2013) and publishes an annual classification of Poor, Sufficient, Good or Excellent. It must also exercise its pollution control powers to achieve at least Sufficient status. Currently there is one river with designated Bathing Water Status, the River Wharfe at Ilkley. This was monitored for the first time during the 2021 Bathing Water Season (15th May - 30th September). The classification result will be published in January 2022.

The Environment Agency publishes a profile for each designated Bathing Water on its Swimfo website (https://environment.data.gov.uk/bwq/profiles/), which provides water quality testing results, the annual classification and information on pollution sources affecting each Bathing Water.

The Environment Agency and the UK Health Security Agency (formerly Public Health England) have published Swim Healthy guidance on Gov.UK

(https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/swim-healthy-leaflet).

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
26th Nov 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment he has made of the potential risk to human health from rivers.

Improving water quality is a Government priority and we are taking significant action in this area for people and nature. The Environment Act sets a duty on the Government to publish a storm overflow discharge reduction plan by September 2022. This plan will address reducing the adverse impacts on public health of sewage discharges from storm overflows.

Where rivers are designated as Bathing Waters, the Environment Agency monitors water quality and classifies bathing waters in line with the health protective standards of the Bathing Water Regulations (2013) and publishes an annual classification of Poor, Sufficient, Good or Excellent. It must also exercise its pollution control powers to achieve at least Sufficient status. Currently there is one river with designated Bathing Water Status, the River Wharfe at Ilkley. This was monitored for the first time during the 2021 Bathing Water Season (15th May - 30th September). The classification result will be published in January 2022.

The Environment Agency publishes a profile for each designated Bathing Water on its Swimfo website (https://environment.data.gov.uk/bwq/profiles/), which provides water quality testing results, the annual classification and information on pollution sources affecting each Bathing Water.

The Environment Agency and the UK Health Security Agency (formerly Public Health England) have published Swim Healthy guidance on Gov.UK

(https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/swim-healthy-leaflet).

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
22nd Nov 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps he is taking to protect communities against the risk of flooding.

This Government is acting to drive down flood risk from every angle. We are investing a record £5.2 billion in around 2,000 new defence schemes. This investment will better protect 336,000 properties from flooding and coastal erosion. We also announced £170 million to accelerate the building of 22 flood schemes across the country - on top of our record £5.2 billion investment in flood and coastal defences.

In July 2020, we published a long-term Policy Statement which sets out our ambition to create a nation more resilient to future flood and coastal erosion risk. The Policy Statement includes five policies and over 40 supporting actions which will accelerate progress to better protect and prepare the country against flooding and coastal erosion. A year on from its publication, we published an update on the significant progress that has been made to deliver these commitments and the further steps that we are taking to strengthen action. These include:

  • The Government published its Investment Plan which sets out what will be achieved from the record investment of £5.2 billion, how the portfolio of projects will be developed to improve the country's flood and coastal defences, and how the investment will be managed.
  • The Government committed to allow insurers to help flooded households to make their homes more resilient to future flooding using products such as air brick covers, flood doors and flood resistant plasterboard - and benefit from discounted insurance premiums if they have resilience measures installed.
  • The Government published a review of policy for development in areas at flood risk. The review has found that there are robust measures in place to protect people and property from flooding and has identified opportunities to further strengthen the system. The Government is taking forward new actions in response to these findings.
  • The Government published a report setting out the progress that has been achieved against the Surface Water Management Action Plan and a response to the independent review into the arrangements for determining responsibility for surface water and drainage assets.
  • In addition, the Government published the terms of reference for a new advisory group which will be established by the end of 2021 and will bring together key bodies to inform the government's future policy proposals for reform to local flood risk management planning by 2026.

Taken together, these actions will help to create a thriving and resilient nation which is on the right footing to better manage and adapt to the risks of flooding and coastal erosion now, and in the future, reducing the risk of harm to people, businesses and communities.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
22nd Nov 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what plans he has to protect public rights of access where tree planting, funded by Government grants, takes place on open access land.

The UK Forestry Standard clearly states that existing rights of access must be respected and not obstructed. In England and Wales, responsible access must be allowed on mapped access land, including woodland dedicated under the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000, unless a Direction is in place to restrict or exclude access. All government supported planting, such as under our England Woodland Creation Offer (EWCO) and Countryside Stewardship Scheme, must comply with these requirements.

Our Woodland Creation Partnerships will maintain existing public access on land that is planted and explore ways to enhance access provision. Additionally, we are working with land managers to promote access provision within their woodland plantations, for example via voluntary EWCO access grants.

Through the England Trees Action Plan, we are committed to ensuring the provision of safe and appropriate public access as a feature of as many woodlands as possible and to work with landowners and woodland users to develop and implement a plan to improve the quantity, quality, and permanency of public access to new and existing woodlands.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
25th Nov 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, with reference to Schedule 5 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act specified in the Information Pack for the next Quinquennial Review of certain schedules, what assessment he has made of the effectiveness of the new method for listing animal species; and what assessment he has made of the impact on (a) pine martens, (b) stag beetles and (c) other wildlife in England remaining as animal species which receive statutory protection under that Act.

The Quinquennial Review of Schedules 5 and 8 to the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (WCA) is an independent process undertaken by the Statutory Nature Conservation Bodies (Natural England, Natural Resources Wales and NatureScot), working jointly through the Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC). The JNCC has now launched its stakeholder consultation on its recommendations for the addition or removal of species listed under Schedule 5 & 8 of the WCA. It will then make final recommendations early next year to Defra, the Scottish Government, and the Welsh Government. Changes to species protection have not yet been recommended, nor have any decisions been made.

This Government has committed to leave the environment in a better state than we inherited it, which is underpinned by our target to halt the decline in species abundance by 2030. Species protections are an important part of that work.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
22nd Nov 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps he is taking to prevent a mass cull of pigs in the UK.

We have been working closely with industry throughout this period to understand how best to support it in response to the challenges caused by the pandemic, including the loss of the Chinese market to several processing plants, disruption to CO2 supplies, and a temporary shortage of labour, specifically skilled butchers in the processing sector. In response to these challenges, we recognise that in recent months a significant number of pigs have had to be kept on farm

On 14 October, the Government announced a package of measures to support the pig industry and to seek to reduce the animal welfare implications of pigs backing up on farms.

The package of measures for support includes the approval of up to 800 visas for pork butchers, a Private Storage Aid scheme, and a Slaughter Incentive Payment Scheme to increase the throughput of pigs at processors and working to identify new export markets for pork with the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB), particularly lightly-processed pork.

In England and Scotland, the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board and Quality Meat Scotland have both introduced a suspension on the statutory levy for pig farmers and producers during November 2021 – suspending payments of the levy pig farmers and producers are required to pay. This will amount to savings for the sector of just under £1 million.

The Government will continue to monitor the evolving situation and work closely with the industry through this challenging period.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
25th Nov 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps his Department is taking to ensure the supply of wine and spirits over the festive period 2021-22.

The UK has a highly resilient food supply chain, as demonstrated throughout the Covid-19 response, and it is well equipped to deal with situations with the potential to cause disruption. Defra has well established ways of working with the industry and across Government to monitor risks that may arise. We do not anticipate disruption to the supply of alcohol this Christmas.

The Government has acted quickly to tackle the challenges to our supply chains, which were brought on by global pressures including the pandemic and the international shortage of HGV drivers.

Some of these Government-led key measures include the Driver and Vehicle Standard Agency’s action to increase HGV tests to 3,000 per week, the introduction of 16-week skills bootcamps to train new and returning drivers and the Department for Transport’s action to streamline HGV testing with a minimised regulatory framework adding around 50,000 more tests to be conducted.

In addition to this, the Transport Secretary relaxed driver hours regulation, allowing more deliveries to be made during unprecedented times of national driver shortage to manage food supply chain bottlenecks. This relaxation will last up to 9 January 2022 in England, Scotland and Wales covering the Christmas peak demand period for food across the supply chain.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
24th Nov 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what recent assessment he has made of the (a) financial costs and (b) environmental impacts of the use of domestic flights for business travel undertaken by Ministers and civil servants.

The Greening Government Commitments (GGCs) set out the Government’s ambitions to improve the environmental performance of its own estate and operations. It includes sub-targets on business travel, against which departments are required to report every quarter for an annual published report.

The GGC annual report for 2019/20 shows that, compared to a 2009 to 2010 baseline, the Government as a whole reduced the number of domestic flights taken by 38%. Alongside other actions taken, this helped contribute to a 50% reduction in Greenhouse Gas emissions for the government estate, compared to the 2009 to 2010 baseline. The reduced energy consumption, from the 50% reduction in Greenhouse Gas emissions across the estate, saved the government an estimated £148 million in 2019 to 2020, compared to the 2009 to 2010 baseline.

To build on this progress, in October, Defra published a new Greening Government Commitments Framework for 2021 to 2025. This includes a refined sub-target on domestic flights: between 2021 to 2025, departments are required to report on, and achieve, reductions in emissions from domestic flights by at least 30% from a 2017/18 baseline. Departmental progress against this target will be published annually.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
19th Nov 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps he is taking to accelerate the implementation of a badger vaccination strategy alongside improved cattle testing, the roll out of a cattle vaccine and stricter movement of cattle.

As set out in the Government response to Professor Sir Charles Godfray’s review of the Government’s strategy for achieving Officially Bovine Tuberculosis Free status for England, the next phase of the strategy focuses on developing a deployable cattle vaccine, wider rollout of badger vaccination and improvements to TB testing.

Badger culling will not be halted immediately – as set out in the Government’s response to the January 2021 consultation[1], no new intensive cull licences will be issued after 2022 and new supplementary badger culling licences have been limited to a maximum of two years. Culling would remain an option where epidemiological assessment indicates that it is needed.

We have awarded funding for a five-year badger vaccination programme in East Sussex. The scheme, which will see vaccination deployed by the farming community, will help refine future delivery models for deploying large-scale farmer-led vaccination schemes. We are also undertaking Government-funded badger vaccination in an area where four-year intensive badger culling has ended. We are continuing to bolster our capability to deploy even more badger vaccination in post-cull areas from 2022.

Developing a deployable cattle TB vaccine, with the objective of introduction within the next five years, is one of the Government’s priorities. In 2021, world-leading bovine TB cattle vaccination trials began in England and Wales.

A change from annual to six-monthly routine surveillance testing of cattle herds was introduced in the High Risk Area (HRA) counties of Shropshire and Staffordshire in September 2020 and was extended to the rest of the HRA from July 2021. Herds in the HRA that meet certain risk criteria can remain on annual surveillance testing. In addition, in July 2021 criteria for mandatory use of the more sensitive, supplementary interferon gamma blood test were changed in order to include new breakdown herds in the HRA with lesion and/or culture positive animals that were officially TB free (OTF) for less than eighteen months, following a previous breakdown with lesion and/or culture positive animals. A number of other options for improving the effectiveness of cattle testing, including pre- and post-movement testing, are currently being considered.

[1] https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/bovine-tuberculosis-proposals-to-help-eradicate-disease-in-england

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
24th Nov 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what metrics his Department uses to measure the efficiency of the Marine Management Organisation; and what recent assessment he has made of the MMO's performance against those metrics.

The efficiency of the Marine Management Organisation (MMO) is measured through specific service-based targets which are subject to regular performance review, including quarterly at Board level. Like all government departments, the MMO is also required to publish an annual report each year which provides information on its purpose, the key risks in achieving its objectives, and how it has performed. The latest published annual report from the MMO is available online.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
24th Nov 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what targets are in place for the Marine Management Organisation to determine applications from marine enterprises for major investment projects.

The Marine Management Organisation operates several key services to support the development of major investment projects from marine enterprises, including grant funding and marine licensing. All these services include targets subject to regular performance review, including quarterly at Board level, and are published annually.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
15th Nov 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to reduce confusion regarding recycling in England; what plans they have to require companies to simplify recycling instructions on their packaging; and whether they have plans to legislate to standardise local authority rules over what can and cannot be recycled.

As part of our Resources and Waste Strategy, we want to make recycling easier and ensure that there is a comprehensive and consistent service across England. This will help to reduce confusion with recycling, ensure that there is more recycled material in the products we buy, and that the UK recycling industry grows.

Following support at public consultation, the Environment Act 2021 requires that all waste collection authorities in England must make arrangements for a core set of materials to be collected for recycling from households. This core set includes: paper and card; plastic; glass; metal; food waste and garden waste. The Environment Act 2021 also requires that all businesses and non-domestic premises in England must make arrangements to recycle the same set of recyclable materials, with the exception of garden waste.

In our recent consultation on ‘Consistency in Household and Business Recycling in England’, we consulted on defining these waste streams in greater detail in secondary legislation. We are currently analysing stakeholder responses and will publish the result of these decisions in our government response in early 2022.

Earlier this year we consulted on proposals to introduce Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) for packaging in the UK, these proposals include a mandatory requirement for producers to label packaging to indicate whether it is or isn’t recyclable. This will ensure that consumers are provided with clear and consistent information and will help to make it easier for them to recycle. We are currently analysing stakeholder responses to the consultation and will set out further details in the Government Response which will be published in early 2022.

Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
15th Nov 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government why they have increased hydropower licence fees for run-of-river schemes by 895 per cent since 2016; and how this aligns with their ambition to generate more renewable energy.

The Environment Agency (EA) is responsible for managing water resources in England to ensure there is a sustainable supply of water for the public, businesses and the environment. This work is funded by licence fees charged to businesses which abstract or impound water, including hydroelectric power (HEP) operators.

The EA is proposing to reform its water resourcing charging scheme from April 2022 so that the scheme is fairer and recovers the full costs from customers for the services they require. The EA will continue to invest in the key foundations that deliver water resource management as well as in maintaining and operating infrastructure, modernising the licensing system and protecting water stressed catchments, particularly chalk.

On average it costs the EA nearly £13,000 to assess a HEP permit application due to the significant, wide-ranging, and complex risks these schemes can pose to the environment. The EA currently charges £1,500 for HEP permit applications, which means HEP applications are currently subsidised by fees paid by other businesses. To fully recover the costs of the services HEP operators require, the EA is proposing to change HEP permit application fees, depending on the volume of water required. Unlike most other abstractors, HEP operators generating less than 5 megawatts will continue to be exempt from annual subsistence fees. The charges for HEP permit applications were last increased in 2014.

The EA ran a public consultation on the proposed charges between 18 August and 10 November 2021. It is now analysing all consultation responses to consider whether any changes to the proposals are necessary. It will publish a response document within 12 weeks of the consultation closing.

The Government acknowledges the valuable contribution of hydropower to the UK energy mix over many decades, and it is important that it operates in a way that safeguards the environment.

Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
15th Nov 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they have carried out a cost-benefit analysis of bat surveys in planning applications; and, if so, what value they placed on the life of a bat, disaggregated by indigenous species.

This government has committed to leave the environment in a better state than we inherited it, underpinned by our target to halt the decline in species abundance by 2030. Protecting and conserving bat populations, including species like the serotine bat, is an important part of this.

Natural England (NE) has not carried out a cost-benefit analysis of bat surveys in planning applications. However, NE is in the process of evaluating the benefit to bat conservation from actions taken as a result of regulatory work. It is expected that the initial findings will be published in early 2022/23.

NE is currently testing a new approach to bat licensing through the Bat Earned Recognition Pilot. The pilot aims to streamline the licensing process through accrediting ecologists, enabling them to have greater discretion to progress low risk cases, estimated to be up to 90% of all applications. This will reduce costs and delays for customers whilst providing better outcomes for bats. The pilot is well advanced and is currently in the process of accrediting ecologists, with a view to being operational from early in 2022.

Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
16th Nov 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what data they have on the catch taken by the EU Fisheries fleet in UK waters this year.

The UK-EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement requires both Parties to share information on records of catches from each other’s waters. The UK receives information on records of catches of quota and non-quota species from the UK Exclusive Economic Zone by EU vessels on a monthly basis.

Lord Benyon
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
19th Nov 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, if he will take steps to stop trail hunting on Government-owned land.

The Hunting Act 2004 makes it an offence to hunt a wild mammal with dogs, except where it is carried out in accordance with the exemptions in the Act, and completely bans hare coursing.

Issuing a license or giving permission for trail hunting is an operational matter for the landowner and Defra does not play a central role here.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
24th Nov 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, how many and what proportion of the Marine Management Organisation (MMO) staff were working from home in response to the outbreak of covid-19 as at 24 November 2021; and what assessment he has made of the effect of the level of home working on the effectiveness of the MMO.

In line with the wider Defra response to the Covid-19 outbreak, the Marine Management Organisation (MMO) currently operates an office based blended working model where all MMO staff can mix office based and home working, subject to safe office capacity. The MMO has also continued to operate sea and shore-based assurance inspections throughout the pandemic.

No assessment on the effect that home working has had on the effectiveness of the MMO has been undertaken.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
19th Nov 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, how many civil servants employed by his Department were based in each of the 12 NUTS1 UK regions on (a) 1 March 2021, (b) 1 June 2021 and (c) 1 September 2021.

Along with all other Government departments, Defra publishes annual data as at 31 March. The Annual Civil Service Employment Survey (ACSES) provides the official headline National Statistics on the size, shape and structure of the Civil Service.

The number of Civil Servants employed by the department by regions for part (a) is available from this link: https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/civil-service-statistics-2021. Table 12 of the ACSES data shows the regional breakdown by department.

For 1 June 2021 and 1 September 2021, the data is shown below

Region

1 June 2021 (data as at 31 May 21

1 September 2021 (data as at 31 Aug-21)

London

2535

2664

South East

316

318

East of England

164

166

East Midlands

67

77

West Midlands

209

220

Yorkshire & Humber

632

650

North East

200

224

North West

294

314

South West

928

978

Wales

9

12

Scotland

15

18

Home

252

316

Grand Total

5621

5957

The data is line with the statistical methodology used by the Office for National Statistics. We have taken the end of the month closest to dates requested. We have also shown in the above table the number of home-based permanent staff.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
18th Nov 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what recent assessment his Department has made of the stability and security of the agricultural fertiliser supply chain; and if he will make a statement.

We are aware that due to the increase in cost of natural gas across the globe, which is a key input for the production of ammonium nitrate-based fertiliser products, the cost of production of these fertiliser types has increased significantly. Increased demand has also increased the cost of other alternative fertiliser types. Rising cost of natural gas is affecting Europe and the global market with fertiliser companies halting production due to high input costs.

Industry data[1] reports that ammonium nitrate prices are at record highs, having nearly tripled in price since last November. They state that from November 2020 through to November 2021, the price of imported ammonium nitrate rose from £219 per tonne to between £600 and £630 per tonne, an increase of between 174-188%. Over the same time period, the price of UK produced ammonium nitrate also rose, from £208 per tonne to between £585 and £605, an increase of 181-191%.

A few months ago, the CO2 industry reached an agreement to ensure UK businesses have access to a sustainable supply of CO2. The Government supported this through a short-term financial intervention to allow CF Fertilisers to continue operating while the industry moved towards this agreement. Ammonium Nitrate production has therefore restarted and is being placed onto the domestic market.

Defra have been in contact with key industry figures including the NFU and fertiliser producers and importers, and have frequent contact with the key sector representative body for fertilisers the Agricultural industries Confederation (AIC).

We are continuing to monitor the security and stability of fertiliser and other supply chains and working closely with colleagues across government as well as industry figures. This will help inform how Defra and other industry bodies can best support farmers.

[1] AHDB Fertiliser price data (https://ahdb.org.uk/GB-fertiliser-prices) and Infofert in collaboration with Profercy european fertiliser review (https://www.profercy.com/)

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
18th Nov 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what recent assessment his Department has made of the impact of agricultural fertiliser costs on farm businesses.

We are aware that due to the increase in cost of natural gas across the globe, which is a key input for the production of ammonium nitrate-based fertiliser products, the cost of production of these fertiliser types has increased significantly. Increased demand has also increased the cost of other alternative fertiliser types. Rising cost of natural gas is affecting Europe and the global market with fertiliser companies halting production due to high input costs.

Industry data[1] reports that ammonium nitrate prices are at record highs, having nearly tripled in price since last November. They state that from November 2020 through to November 2021, the price of imported ammonium nitrate rose from £219 per tonne to between £600 and £630 per tonne, an increase of between 174-188%. Over the same time period, the price of UK produced ammonium nitrate also rose, from £208 per tonne to between £585 and £605, an increase of 181-191%.

A few months ago, the CO2 industry reached an agreement to ensure UK businesses have access to a sustainable supply of CO2. The Government supported this through a short-term financial intervention to allow CF Fertilisers to continue operating while the industry moved towards this agreement. Ammonium Nitrate production has therefore restarted and is being placed onto the domestic market.

Defra have been in contact with key industry figures including the NFU and fertiliser producers and importers, and have frequent contact with the key sector representative body for fertilisers the Agricultural industries Confederation (AIC).

We are continuing to monitor the security and stability of fertiliser and other supply chains and working closely with colleagues across government as well as industry figures. This will help inform how Defra and other industry bodies can best support farmers.

[1] AHDB Fertiliser price data (https://ahdb.org.uk/GB-fertiliser-prices) and Infofert in collaboration with Profercy european fertiliser review (https://www.profercy.com/)

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
23rd Nov 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps his Department is taking to improve the efficiency of supply chains for UK food, drink and hospitality businesses in the context of HGV driver shortages.

The United Kingdom has a highly resilient food supply chain, as demonstrated throughout the Covid-19 pandemic. Defra has well established ways of working with the industry and across Government to monitor risks that may arise, and be ready to respond to them, including Government intervention when appropriate.

In the past months, the Environment Secretary and I have agreed a series of solutions to increase the efficiency of our supply chain system and support businesses across the food and drink, and hospitality sectors. These include working with the Transport Secretary. We have adopted a series of measures to train, recruit and retain lorry drivers as well as improve the working conditions in the industry. Our joint-Government actions will continue to build more capacity across the food supply chain.

Some of these Government-led key measures include the Driver Vehicle Standard Agency’s action to increase HGV tests to 3,000 per week, the introduction of 16-week skills bootcamps to train new and returning drivers and the Department for Transport’s action to streamline HGV testing with a minimised regulatory framework adding around 50,000 more tests to be conducted. Defra has also announced that up to 4700 visas will be available for HGV drivers delivering food ahead of Christmas 2021.

In addition to this, the Transport Secretary relaxed driver hours regulation, allowing more deliveries to be made during unprecedented times of national driver shortage to manage food supply chain bottlenecks. This relaxation will last up to 9 January 2022 in England, Scotland and Wales covering the Christmas peak demand period for food across the supply chain.

Overall, these measures will improve the efficiency of the supply chain and the movement of food products across the interlinked food, drink, and hospitality businesses.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
18th Nov 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment his Department has made of the impact of the proposed new policy requirements relating to the diversion of power into pasteurisation anaerobic digestion sites on (a) the environment and (b) demand for alternative sources of power.

Environment Agency Position Statement 029: Anaerobic digestion of agricultural manure and slurry, Version 1.0, October 2010 has been assessed as part of a current waste quality protocols review. In December 2020 the Environment Agency published its first outcome of a review of the Anaerobic Digestate Quality Protocol. This concluded that, amongst other issues, the Environment Agency needs to review its position on the waste status of manure-based digestates (as detailed in Position Statement 029). The review is ongoing. The Environment Agency has set up a task and finish group with industry representation and the revision process has started. Details of this work can be found here.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
23rd Nov 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, on how many occasions he has discussed the death of Zane Gbangbola with the Environment Agency.

Whilst neither I, nor Defra ministerial colleagues, have discussed the death of Zane Gbangbola with the Environment Agency, Defra group officials have discussed the case on many occasions and have briefed Minsters.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
18th Nov 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment his Department has made of the potential merits of representations to delay or cancel the 1 January 2026 deadline to correct legal record rights of way.

We understand the concerns that many stakeholders have about the 2026 cut-off date due to delays to the project brought about by our EU Exit and the need to reprioritise the Government’s legislative agenda accordingly.

Deferring the 2026 cut-off date for registration of historic rights of way is a possibility, which would create more time for the reforms to rights of way legislation to be implemented effectively. However, we must weigh this against the desire for certainty around where rights of way exist, which implementing the cut-off date will bring. Officials will continue to keep this under review in consultation with the Stakeholder Working Group.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
23rd Nov 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment he has made of the sufficiency of existing water reservoirs to meet future demand; what plans he has to build further reservoirs or otherwise increase storage capacity; and if he will make a statement.

The Government recognises the need for new water resources infrastructure, including reservoirs and water transfers, alongside reducing leakage and conserving water to provide a secure supply of water for future generations and to protect our environment.

The National Framework for water resources, launched in March 2020, brings together industry, regulators and government to transform the way we use and look after our water supplies, including the need to reduce demand, halve leakage and develop new supplies.

As part of the current price review round (PR19), Ofwat has allocated a £469 million fund for water companies to expedite and progress the development of new water infrastructure, which includes new reservoirs. Additionally, the Regulators’ Alliance for Progressing Infrastructure Development (RAPID) has been formed to help accelerate the development of new water infrastructure and design future regulatory frameworks to enable this development.

Water companies have the statutory duty to provide clean and reliable water to customers under the Water Industry Act 1991. Statutory water resources management plans show how water companies will meet this duty and manage water supply and demand for at least the next 25 years. These plans are revised every five years and updated plans will be consulted on in 2022.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
23rd Nov 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, with reference to migratory birds, what steps are the Government taking (a) nationally and (b) internationally to mitigate species decline.

The UK is a globally important territory for migratory birds, and that is why we continue to take steps nationally and internationally to mitigate species decline. This is underpinned by our new target under the Environment Act 2021, to halt species decline by 2030.

In England, the Countryside Stewardship scheme can help to mitigate species decline, including migratory birds, through a range of options which provide food, habitat and nesting sites. Migratory birds which can be supported through the scheme include lapwing, stone curlew, turtle dove, whitethroat, redshank and snipe.

The Government's 25 Year Environment Plan commits us to restoring 75% of our one million hectares of terrestrial and freshwater protected sites to favourable condition by 2042. Many of these sites, which in total cover over 1 million hectares, protect the habitats of migratory birds even if not specifically notified for those species. Defra and the Devolved Administrations commissioned a review of the terrestrial and coastal UK network of Special Protection Areas, some of which are designated to protect the habitats of regularly-occurring migratory birds, and we have developed an England implementation plan in liaison with Natural England.

The Government continues to support specific conservation action for species, such as the curlew, and as part of the Nature Recovery Network (NRN), we have funded a trial translocation and recovery project in the east of England. We have also supported a range of successful reintroductions for migratory raptors including the white-tailed eagle to southern England.

Internationally, the UK is a signatory to, and proactively engaged with, a number of international agreements which seek to conserve and protect migratory birds and their habitats, in particular the Convention on Migratory Species, the African Eurasian Waterbird Agreement and the International Task Force on Illegal Killing, Taking and Trade of Migratory Birds in the Mediterranean. In addition to domestic financial support, the UK provides targeted funding to support the conservation of threatened migratory birds and their habitats in developing countries, in particular in Africa.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)