Levelling-up and Regeneration Bill

Debate between Baroness Parminter and Lord Benyon
Baroness Parminter Portrait Baroness Parminter (LD)
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My Lords, I support the noble Baroness, Lady Willis, in her Amendment 390, to which I have added my name. It is a really important amendment as we struggle to meet the Government’s environmental target and our need to build more homes and develop our land. We have to do that in a way that understands there are fundamental environmental problems we need to address, particularly nutrient pollution.

It is clear that we need a statutory underpinning for nature-based solutions because, without that, they are not going to happen. We have evidence of that. You only have to look through previous price reviews, in which Ofwat turned down recommendations from water companies for nature-based solutions because, on a crude cost-benefit analysis, putting in a grey concrete storm tank was a damn sight cheaper than wetlands and various other proposals. If my memory serves me right, Ofwat turned down some very detailed and thoughtful proposals from Anglian Water because of the cost. Unless there is statutory underpinning, Ofwat will just carry on with its usual economic model.

This amendment is an important way of ensuring we get that win-win of nature-based solutions as we seek to address our nutrient pollution problems. It is an elegant way to move forward on the Dasgupta review, which talked about finding new ways to build nature into our economic model. Giving this a statutory underpinning would, as I have just made clear, give Ofwat the confidence to build into its economic models support for nature-based solutions. We know these are going to be fundamental if we are going to get to our 30 by 30 target.

The only thing I want to say, because it is late and so much has been brilliantly said by the noble Baroness, Lady Willis, is that you would expect us to say this. We are the usual green environmentalists. But I hope the Minister hears that we are also saying that we understand why this is important. We need development, and there is stalemate in many housing developments because the nutrient pollution issues cannot be solved. We are trying to be constructive in resolving that problem. We are not just saying this with our usual green hats on. We realise that this is a tricky issue which needs resolving.

It is not just us in the environmental groups, such as Wildlife and Countryside Link. The House of Lords Science and Technology Committee did an excellent report on nature-based solutions recently. Again, this underpins the support for this amendment. The Government’s own environmental improvement plan talks about the benefits of nature-based solutions. If you are going to deliver on your own words, then you should be supporting this.

For me, the most important and powerful thing is that the water companies support this amendment. In addition to the comments made individually to the noble Baroness, Lady Willis, Water UK put out a release saying that the water companies want this amendment. It would be wonderful to be able to say that this amendment has been supported on a day when the water companies have said, “Mea culpa”, said sorry for the appalling way that they have handled our sewage problems, and promised that they will put £10 billion-worth of new investment into this area. This would ensure that we get the win-win, both to overcome some of our problems with building the homes we need and to ensure that we get the benefits we need for our hard-pressed nature.

Lord Benyon Portrait Lord Benyon (Con)
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I am grateful to noble Lords for their contributions. I will come to the various points but, first, I say that I agreed with nearly everything that the noble Baroness, Lady Parminter, said, particularly the quotation from Dasgupta. But her criticism of Ofwat is slightly out of date: I had those arguments with it a decade ago. It liked a bit of concrete and steel then because it could measure water going into it and the quality going out, and it did not trust nature-based solutions because it could not get that degree of measurement of asset value. There has been a sea-change in how we do that, but I agree with her in every other respect.

On this group on nutrient pollution standards, I begin my remarks with Amendment 390. I agree with the noble Baroness, Lady Willis of Summertown, and others that we should ensure that water companies deliver this new statutory duty in a timely way. Throughout the delivery of the Water Industry National Environment Programme, the Environment Agency regularly liaises with water companies to ensure progress and to address risks to delivery. Under Section 202 of the Water Industry Act, the Government have the power to request that water companies provide information regarding the delivery of improvements to wastewater infrastructure, and we intend to use these powers if necessary.

Should it become evident that a delay in upgrading a particular wastewater treatment works is unavoidable, the legislation makes provision for the Secretary of State to disapply the requirement placed on local planning authorities to assume that the upgrade will be delivered by 1 April 2030 for the purposes of a habitats regulations assessment. The Secretary of State must notify local planning authorities accordingly so that they can factor this into their planning discussions.

I agree with the noble Baroness that we should ensure that water companies are delivering against this duty in a way that maximises benefits for the environment, and ensure that nature-based solutions are a vital part of our sewage treatment infrastructure. The Government want to see water companies making use of these solutions as part of the treatment processes that they apply. In the strategic policy statement for Ofwat, we set out that water companies should

“increase … the use of nature-based solutions where appropriate”.

The new statutory duty has been designed to ensure that water companies can use nature-based solutions as part of the wastewater treatment process—for example, water companies may use integrated wetlands to remove nutrients from wastewater. The legislation also allows water companies to use nature-based solutions as part of this process. I am repeating myself, so I will move on, as the hour is late.

In the most recent strategic policy statement for Ofwat, the Government set the clear expectation that it should continue in this form. Therefore, I assure the Committee that sufficient provisions are already in place to ensure that nature-based solutions are taken forward where appropriate.

I turn to Amendment 391 in the name of the noble Baroness, Lady Hayman of Ullock. Upgrading wastewater treatment plants smaller than a plant capacity of 2,000 population equivalent would require significant investment in new infrastructure and deliver minimal environmental benefit, and it is therefore unlikely to represent value for money. However, we have provided a power for the Secretary of State to lower the plant capacity in individual catchments so that, where appropriate, we can require upgrades at smaller treatment works too.

Although I welcome Amendment 392 in the name of the noble Baroness, Lady Hayman of Ullock, it is unnecessary because the Secretary of State will of course consider all relevant information and advice before making any exemptions from achieving the nutrient pollution standard. In addition, if a wastewater treatment plant is exempt from this statutory duty, the Environment Agency will still make use of environmental permits to set limits on the quality of wastewater being discharged, thereby ensuring that the water environment is protected.

In relation to Amendment 393, I reassure the Committee that wastewater treatment plants with a capacity of less than 250 population equivalent can already be designated as not exempt where appropriate. If the evidence shows that it is necessary to put enhanced treatment in place at a wastewater treatment plant with a capacity of less than 250 population equivalent, the legislation allows for the Secretary of State to do so within a set timeframe.

I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Stunell, that we should ensure that nutrient pollution standards for wastewater are protected. However, as already made clear, wastewater treatment works that are exempt will still be subject to all the other existing standards set by the Environment Agency on a site-specific basis, but I am happy to continue discussions on this as the Bill progresses.

Amendment 400 raises the issue of accurate monitoring and reporting. I agree that this is critical. Under this Government, we have gone from just 7% of storm overflows being fitted with event duration monitors in 2010 to over 90% today, and by the end of this year that will rise to 100%. The Environment Agency already regulates many water quality monitoring stations through permits to ensure that they operate to established regulatory standards. We aim to bring forward regulations to implement a new duty on water companies to report data on sewage discharges from storm overflows in near real time. In those same regulations, we will implement a duty to monitor the water quality impacts of those discharges. That will make the UK world leaders in understanding the impact of sewage discharges on the receiving environment. I therefore reassure the Committee that this amendment is not necessary, as the Government are already taking steps to ensure the accurate and timely reporting of monitoring data from wastewater treatment works. The Committee should expect further announcements on this soon.

Considering Amendment 401 in the name of the noble Baroness, Lady Hayman of Ullock, I will assume that she is referring in it to the environmental improvement plan. The plan includes the steps that we are taking to meet the legally binding long-term target to reduce phosphorus loadings from treated wastewater to the water environment. Every five years, the Government must review the environmental improvement plan and update it as necessary to ensure that it contains any further policies needed to achieve long-term and interim targets. It is therefore important that we retain flexibility to update the actions in the plan rather than setting them on a statutory footing, so that we can ensure that the actions reflect the most appropriate path to achieving our policy. It will be for this and the other place to hold Ministers to account on this in future years.

Government Amendments 393A to 393J will improve the enforceability of these provisions by making it clear that the Environment Agency needs to treat excess nutrient pollution discharge which results from the failure to deliver upgrades on time as environmental damage. The sewerage undertaker would then be liable to remediate the excess nutrient pollution determined as having been discharged. For the reasons set out, which I hope provide sufficient reassurance, I ask the noble Baroness, Lady Willis, to withdraw Amendment 390, and noble Lords not to move the other amendments in their names and to support the government amendments.

Water Companies: Licences

Debate between Baroness Parminter and Lord Benyon
Monday 24th April 2023

(1 year, 1 month ago)

Lords Chamber
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Lord Benyon Portrait Lord Benyon (Con)
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These are issues that require us to work across government, such as sentencing, but where a crime has been committed and it can be proved that an individual in a senior position in a company has directed that company to operate in an illegal manner, that is a criminal act and therefore sanctions should reflect that.

Baroness Parminter Portrait Baroness Parminter (LD)
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My Lords, the Government have said that they will use the evidence of enforcement and litigation in determining whether they will use this new power on dividends for companies, but that requires evidence. As the noble Baroness, Lady Jones of Whitchurch, said, it has recently been shown that of the storm overflow monitors that the water companies put in, one in six—2,300—are not working. Why are the Government not fining these water companies immediately if their storm overflow monitoring devices are not working, because otherwise no one can get the evidence and Ofwat cannot make these decisions?

Lord Benyon Portrait Lord Benyon (Con)
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The Environment Agency has a suite of enforcement actions it can take in those circumstances, including criminal prosecution. Last year it reported 30 monitors that were not recording data properly. Faulty or inactive monitors are identified by the agency through its data monitoring, and where water companies are failing to meet expected levels of monitoring coverage, the agency is holding them to account by requesting plans and monthly updates on progress. Some 15,000 storm outflows exist in this country; we now know where they are and we can monitor them.

Levelling-up and Regeneration Bill

Debate between Baroness Parminter and Lord Benyon
Lord Benyon Portrait Lord Benyon (Con)
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There are over 200 clauses in the Bill, and what good legislation seeks to do is to achieve the right balance between the needs of society—new houses, energy and the rest of it—and the understanding that we have a serious problem. We think we have that degree of flexibility about right here. There may be other parts of the Bill that are more rigid in what they seek to achieve, but I have tried to explain that if flexibility did not exist here, rather timid plans might be created, and we want ambitious plans to be created for these local nature recovery strategies. That is why we think this degree of flexibility is the right way forward.

Baroness Parminter Portrait Baroness Parminter (LD)
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I thank the Minister for his remarks, and for the fact that he recognised the strength of feeling right around the Committee. As he said, we all want the same thing; we all want to restore nature from its depleted state, and these local nature recovery strategies are a brilliant tool. As my noble friend Lord Teverson acknowledged, on these Benches and others we think this was a good initiative by the Government. The trouble is that it is not going quite far enough. Like the noble Lord, Lord Lucas, and others, I was initially buoyed by the Minister’s comments. In his words, this is about hard-wiring nature into the planning system. It is—that is what we are trying to do. Frankly, it is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to respond to the challenges that nature faces and that the citizens in our country are desperate for us to address.

Guidance alone will not be enough; it will not cut it—we know that. There are enough people in this Chamber who have been or are councillors who know that, when push comes to shove, if there is not some purchase on the planning system—if the local plan is not clear that the local nature recovery strategies are a key evidence base for the local plan—it just will not happen. Nature is not something you can just talk about, and the Government are good at getting plans together on local nature recovery. You can make as many targets as you like but if you do not will the means we will get nowhere.

Retained EU Law (Revocation and Reform) Bill

Debate between Baroness Parminter and Lord Benyon
Lord Benyon Portrait Lord Benyon (Con)
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Yes, that is Defra’s approach; that is what we are doing in respect of this legislation. Doing that allows us to keep protections in place, provide certainty to businesses and stakeholders, and make reforms tailored to our needs while removing irrelevant and redundant pieces of legislation, such as the ones I recently mentioned.

The noble Baroness, Lady Parminter, and other noble Lords asked about the justification for Clause 15(5). The UK’s high standards were never dependent on our membership of the EU. We can deliver on the promise of Brexit without abandoning our high standards. The powers to revoke or replace will provide the Government with the opportunity to amend retained EU law and will limit those reforms that do not add to the overall regulatory burden. This is about ensuring that we have a regulatory environment that is the right fit for the UK and not for an environment, as I said last week, that goes from the Arctic to the Mediterranean, and which can fit our overall regulatory regime. Our intention is to revoke any retained law that is not fit for purpose and replace it with laws that are more tailored to the UK and reflect our new regulatory freedoms.

The noble Baroness mentioned taxation. This Bill does not affect the raising and collection of taxes; that is a matter for the Finance Act.

On no regression, the Levelling-up and Regeneration Bill is clear that the Government cannot use the powers in that Bill to reduce the overall level of environmental protection, and includes a clause setting out this commitment to non-regression. As stated on the face of the Levelling-up and Regeneration Bill, the Secretary of State may make regulations only if satisfied that they

“will not have the effect of reducing the level of environmental protection provided for by any existing environmental law”.

So any changes to environmental regulation will need to support these goals, as well as our international commitments, including those with the EU.

The noble Baroness, Lady Young, referred to the Bill as somehow weakening our resolve or our ability to deliver on our international commitments. I can be absolutely clear on this: there has never been a more determined effort to deliver for international biodiversity and the international climate, as well as domestically.

Lord Benyon Portrait Lord Benyon (Con)
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If the noble Baroness will allow me: Britain is revered in many of the fora that I have attended, whether COPs or other UN events, for the leadership we have taken on this. We cannot do it internationally unless we do it domestically as well. That is why our 30 by 30 commitment is so important and why we will achieve proper management of our marine protected areas by the end of next year, which will deliver precisely on the 30 by 30 commitment for the marine environment.

Lord Benyon Portrait Lord Benyon (Con)
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The noble Baroness, Lady Parminter, was before the noble Baroness.

Baroness Parminter Portrait Baroness Parminter (LD)
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Indeed. I do not wish to contradict the Minister, but I am going to. On reading my copy of the Bill, Clause 15(4)(f) states that the burden “may not … impose taxation”. It states that you cannot include new taxation if you are looking to introduce a new piece of legislation. That is pretty clear.

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Lord Benyon Portrait Lord Benyon (Con)
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That is because taxation is a matter for the Finance Bill—for the Treasury. This Bill does not relate to that. It is a negative. This does not affect taxation.

Baroness Parminter Portrait Baroness Parminter (LD)
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Okay, but it goes on to say in Clause 15(10)(a) that the burden includes, among other things, “a financial cost”. A financial cost can be a levy, which is taxation.

Lord Benyon Portrait Lord Benyon (Con)
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Forgive me, I think that is dancing on the head of a pin. Taxation is not a matter for this piece of legislation.

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Lord Benyon Portrait Lord Benyon (Con)
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I wish I could. I am very content with the current lot, and I hope they continue. I do not really understand the first point that the noble Baroness made. The Bill is quite explicit about where this stands in law. We want a proper regulatory regime underpinned by law; that is why we are having this debate.

Baroness Parminter Portrait Baroness Parminter (LD)
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My Lords, I thank noble Lords who have participated in the debate. I thank the Minister, who has had the decency again to come and speak to us. Given how critical the environmental laws are to the Bill, it is important that he is here and we are grateful for that, although it may not always seem it. It is therefore disappointing that I can say with a degree of certainty that he has not reassured Members about the issues we are concerned about. In a reasonable way, these two important amendments sought to work with the Bill to allay some of our environmental concerns.

I do not understand how the Minister did not quite understand what the noble Baroness, Lady Bennett of Manor Castle, was saying. We accept what the Government are saying through the Minister, but if they want to deliver the commitments for our environment and, in principle, not regress, why not put it in the Bill? That would give us—and, just as critically, the public—the reassurance that we need.

I do not often quote in the Chamber, but this issue is not going away. On Sunday, David Attenborough starts a series called “Wild Isles”. For five weeks he will encourage the British public to find out what is so special about our country and what they can do to protect it. Sir David said this week:

“Though rich in places Britain as a whole is one of the most nature depleted countries in the world. Never has there been a more important time to invest in our own wildlife—to try and set an example for the rest of the world and restore our once wild isles for future generations.”


For five weeks the British public will get that message and, in the same way as when they heard the plastics message, they will ask what they can do to protect their environment and what their Government are doing. They will see this cuckoo of a Bill, sired by someone who was prepared to trash our environment as well as our economy and, unless it has the significant safeguards we have talked about, it could predate on the environment they care about so much. The Government might choose to ignore us today, but they will not be able to ignore the British public. I withdraw the amendment.

Retained EU Law (Revocation and Reform) Bill

Debate between Baroness Parminter and Lord Benyon
Lord Benyon Portrait Lord Benyon (Con)
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Well, not without going through an exhaustive amendment process. I want to see higher environmental standards in this country. I want us to be able to prove that we have higher environmental standards than the rest of Europe. I am ambitious that regulations should be in the right form, effective and pertaining to this country. Most of these regulations were designed for an environment that goes from the Arctic to the Mediterranean. As I shall come on to talk about, there are measures in it, including on animal welfare, for example—the point the noble Lord, Lord Trees, made. One of them relates to not putting ear tags in bulls that are used for “traditional purposes”—which turns out to be a regulation to exempt Spanish bullfighting bulls from the regulations that apply to other cattle. We do not have bullfighting in this country, so it is not a problem for that to sunset. I am sure my noble friend agrees with me.

Baroness Parminter Portrait Baroness Parminter (LD)
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We accept that the Minister is ambitious, but the question I raised was specifically about the Environment Act, where we are clearly being ambitious about the future. We talked about looking to amend regulations in future, including, potentially, the habitats regulation. A specific clause was included in the Bill that there will be a non-regression for environmental standards. Why will he not put that on the face of this Bill?

Lord Benyon Portrait Lord Benyon (Con)
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I will of course reflect on the points made today, and we will consider them all in due course. I do want to make some progress, if possible.

Water Companies: Pollution Penalties

Debate between Baroness Parminter and Lord Benyon
Wednesday 22nd February 2023

(1 year, 3 months ago)

Lords Chamber
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Lord Benyon Portrait Lord Benyon (Con)
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I think that if the chair of the Environment Agency was here, he would hope that I could voice more clearly his views and the distinction that is understood between unlimited fines, which the EA can pursue through the courts, and penalties which can be delivered by the Environment Agency and Ofwat. We are absolutely not resiling from anything that has been announced. It is right, for example, to look at the variable monetary penalties. They are currently capped at £250,000, which we do not believe is a significant enough deterrent. However, very serious fines can and should be a sanction for water companies that knowingly break the law. There is the criminal sanction as well.

Baroness Parminter Portrait Baroness Parminter (LD)
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My Lords, in the last financial year, 22 water company bosses received over £14 million in bonuses, despite sewage spilling out into our rivers and on to our beaches, killing wildlife and harming swimmers. Why are the Government not looking at stopping water company bosses from being given bonuses until they clean up their act?

Lord Benyon Portrait Lord Benyon (Con)
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Through the regulator, Ofwat, we have provided for water companies to be held to account where they are rewarding people in a way that is disproportionate to the service that they provide. That is a change that this Government have made, and it is being followed through by the regulator.

Environmental Improvement Plan 2023

Debate between Baroness Parminter and Lord Benyon
Monday 6th February 2023

(1 year, 4 months ago)

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Lord Benyon Portrait Lord Benyon (Con)
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I was the Minister responsible for delivering on the coalition Government’s clear commitment to reduce bills for water charge payers in the south-west because of the extra effort they had to make to protect their bathing waters and waterways. I do not know what plans there are for the future but it has certainly been extremely successful, particularly for those on low incomes. We still have measures to provide for those who are very challenged economically, so that they can have a social tariff. We will continue to work with South West Water and all MPs in that area, who are lobbying hard on this issue.

Baroness Parminter Portrait Baroness Parminter (LD)
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My Lords, given the importance of putting the environment right across government thinking, it is welcome that the environmental principles policy statement was published. But the Minister said “defence” and, as I am sure he well knows, the MoD is exempt from the provisions of the EPPS and it is unclear how it will take forward the environment in its future provisions. Why, if the Government have produced the EPPS now, will it not come into force for another ten months? If the Minister is going to say it is about process, I have two further questions. First, the Office for Environmental Protection offered to advise the Government on creating the processes for the training of Ministers and civil servants. Have they asked the OEP for advice? Secondly, following the question that got no reply for the noble Baroness, Lady Bakewell of Hardington Mandeville, there seem to be no means for this to be anything other than a box-ticking exercise, because we will not be able to see how these EPPSs are delivered. What is the process for Parliament and other people to see that these EPPSs are doing what they need to do?

Lord Benyon Portrait Lord Benyon (Con)
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The noble Baroness is right: the Ministry of Defence was carved out of the provisions in large areas. However, I urge her to look at what it is doing by way of tree-planting and moving to net zero where it can on its very large estate. We want to make sure that we assist the MoD in doing that.

On the noble Baroness’s other point, about measurement, I hope that throughout this the ideal work of Select Committees and more informed groups of your Lordships will be to delve into this and hold Ministers to account in future years. I entirely believe that these targets show where the Government can explain how it wants to hit those targets and achieve them in a way that holds them accountable throughout. The end date is not necessarily the date that will be of particular interest to the noble Baroness; she wants to know about progress towards it. That is why there are interim target dates throughout, some coming up very soon, which will show the path towards achieving what we set out in the provisions.

Environmental Targets (Marine Protected Areas) Regulations 2022

Debate between Baroness Parminter and Lord Benyon
Tuesday 24th January 2023

(1 year, 4 months ago)

Grand Committee
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Lord Benyon Portrait The Minister of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Benyon) (Con)
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My Lords, I beg to move that the statutory instrument, which sets a target for the recovery of features in marine protected areas, be approved.

MPAs are one of the most important tools we have for protecting the wide range of precious and sensitive habitats and species in our waters. In England, we have established a comprehensive MPA network covering 40% of English waters. Establishing this network is an important step in achieving our goal of conserving our protected species and habitats. Now that they have been designated, we need to increase the protections for these valuable marine environments to help them recover, which is why we are setting this target.

The regulations create a legally binding target that requires at least 70% of protected features in MPAs to be in a favourable condition by 31 December 2042, with the remaining features to be in a recovering condition. This target will set, for the first time, a time-bound target for the recovery of protected features. Currently, only 44% of protected features in MPAs are assessed as being in a favourable condition.

Protected features include the different marine habitats and species, geological and geomorphological features and assemblages that are specified for protection within our MPAs. “Favourable condition” means that the features are in a good and healthy state and align with the conservation objectives of the relevant MPAs. We will assess “recovering condition” by checking whether damaging activities have been appropriately managed. This will identify exactly what rapid remedial action is required by regulators to ensure that our MPAs are being properly protected. Managing MPAs effectively and in line with their conservation objectives will secure the achievement of this target.

The purpose of this instrument is to set a time-bound target for protected features to reach a favourable condition and for the remaining features to be in a recovering condition. This instrument defines the relevant terminology, such as “favourable” and “recovering condition”. It sets a date for reporting the achievement of the target and lists all the features in MPAs subject to the target. It also sets a date by which the Secretary of State for Environment must report on whether the target is achieved and allows the Secretary of State to request advice from Natural England and the Joint Nature Conservation Committee relating to the target.

To achieve the target, the Marine Management Organisation and the Association of Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authorities are rolling out an ambitious programme to introduce necessary management measures in MPAs for the most damaging fishing activity, such as bottom trawling, by 2024. Fisheries by-laws have already been introduced in nearly 60% of England’s MPAs, challenging the criticism that MPAs are “paper parks”. By-laws are implemented following public consultation on a site-by-site basis. Once damaging activities have stopped, protected features will begin their recovery. For some of them this will be immediate, but some will take a very long time. Coral gardens, for example, can take decades to recover, which is why the 2042 date is appropriate.

In conclusion, the measures in these regulations are crucial for the improvement of our marine biodiversity. I hope noble Lords will support these measures and their objectives and approve these draft regulations. I beg to move.

Baroness Parminter Portrait Baroness Parminter (LD)
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My Lords, we welcome the target of 70% for the protection of marine protected areas by 2042. Given that the figure at the moment is 44%, 70% is a strong target. For us, the issue with this particular statutory instrument is the monitoring and how we will be clear that we are achieving these targets.

The original consultation said that protection would be monitored by additional reporting on the changes in individual feature conditions. That was then removed from the final targets that we have before us. The Secondary Legislation Scrutiny Committee asked about this and got a bit of a non-answer from the Minister as to why there was this change and the removal of the monitoring of the individual sites. However, I was very grateful that, at the Minister’s meeting with me and colleagues last week, the Bill team were very clear that individual monitoring had been removed because of cost. Ship-based monitoring is clearly a very costly matter. Therefore, the targets today will be monitored by checking the pressures and vulnerabilities of the marine protected areas in general, so there will not be on-ship monitoring.

That is a disappointment, first, because when the OEP last week reviewed how the Government have been doing on achieving their 25-year environment plan, there were a number of areas where the OEP could not assess the level of success because the monitoring was not strong enough. In this area, we are again at risk that the monitoring being set in place to see whether the targets will be met will not, because of the cost, be sufficient to see whether the laudable target will be met. The Minister will be aware of this concern. The EIP to be published at the end of the month is proposing to set interim targets for meeting all the environmental targets that are set. Can the Minister say whether there will be a review of whether the monitoring arrangements for marine protected areas will be sufficient to see whether the targets can be met? Targets without effective monitoring are frankly meaningless.

Water Framework Directive

Debate between Baroness Parminter and Lord Benyon
Thursday 24th November 2022

(1 year, 6 months ago)

Lords Chamber
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Lord Benyon Portrait Lord Benyon (Con)
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Within the constraints of the fact that this is a devolved issue, we are certainly doing that in England. I hope that I have got across to noble Lords, in responses on 7 September, 25 October, 31 October, 2 November and 14 November, my and my department’s determination and commitment to make this work. We are precisely bringing these different organisations together. Interestingly, the reason why rivers fail is, first, because of physical modification—water is impounded, there may be weirs that have to be taken away—secondly, because of pollution from agricultural and rural land, and, thirdly, because of pollution from wastewater. There are also many other reasons. We have to work across society to make sure that this is co-ordinated, that the targets we will announce in January will be effective and that the Government can be held to account on them.

Baroness Parminter Portrait Baroness Parminter (LD)
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My Lords, the Minister refers to the power of the Office for Environmental Protection. This week, the OEP said that the retained EU law Bill should include a provision that no legislation should be revoked without an equivalent or enhanced level of protection. Do the Government agree?