Bim Afolami Portrait

Bim Afolami

Conservative - Hitchin and Harpenden

First elected: 8th June 2017

Economic Secretary (HM Treasury)

(since November 2023)

Business and Trade Committee
25th Oct 2022 - 11th Dec 2023
Business and Trade Sub-Committee on National Security and Investment
25th Oct 2022 - 11th Dec 2023
Energy Bill [HL]
17th May 2023 - 29th Jun 2023
Electricity and Gas Transmission (Compensation) Bill
18th Jan 2023 - 25th Jan 2023
Trade (Australia and New Zealand) Bill
7th Sep 2022 - 18th Oct 2022
Charities Bill [HL]
19th Jan 2022 - 25th Jan 2022
Dormant Assets Bill [HL]
15th Dec 2021 - 11th Jan 2022
Consolidation Bills (Joint Committee)
5th Mar 2018 - 6th Nov 2019
Regulatory Reform
6th Nov 2017 - 6th Nov 2019
Consolidation, &c., Bills (Joint Committee)
5th Mar 2018 - 6th Nov 2019
Public Accounts Committee
11th Sep 2017 - 22nd Oct 2018


Division Voting information

During the current Parliament, Bim Afolami has voted in 972 divisions, and never against the majority of their Party.
View All Bim Afolami Division Votes

Debates during the 2019 Parliament

Speeches made during Parliamentary debates are recorded in Hansard. For ease of browsing we have grouped debates into individual, departmental and legislative categories.

Sparring Partners
Boris Johnson (Conservative)
(15 debate interactions)
Tulip Siddiq (Labour)
Shadow Minister (Treasury)
(12 debate interactions)
Rishi Sunak (Conservative)
Prime Minister, First Lord of the Treasury, Minister for the Civil Service, and Minister for the Union
(12 debate interactions)
View All Sparring Partners
Department Debates
HM Treasury
(204 debate contributions)
Cabinet Office
(34 debate contributions)
View All Department Debates
Legislation Debates
Environment Act 2021
(3,405 words contributed)
Parliamentary Constituencies Act 2020
(2,973 words contributed)
Financial Services and Markets Act 2023
(2,227 words contributed)
Financial Services Bill 2019-21
(2,170 words contributed)
View All Legislation Debates
View all Bim Afolami's debates

Hitchin and Harpenden 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).

Bim Afolami has not participated in any petition debates

Latest EDMs signed by Bim Afolami

5th February 2018
Bim Afolami signed this EDM on Thursday 22nd February 2018

FLY TIPPING AND COMMUNITY PAYBACK

Tabled by: Mike Penning (Conservative - Hemel Hempstead)
That this House calls on the Secretary of State for Justice to simplify the court process for the prosecution of fly-tippers; and to introduce community payback sentencing for fly-tippers to help address the increase in illegal fly tipping.
45 signatures
(Most recent: 21 May 2018)
Signatures by party:
Labour: 25
Conservative: 13
Democratic Unionist Party: 4
Independent: 1
Liberal Democrat: 1
Crossbench: 1
25th October 2017
Bim Afolami signed this EDM on Thursday 23rd November 2017

DISABILITY EMPLOYMENT

Tabled by: Daniel Zeichner (Labour - Cambridge)
That this House notes the findings published by Leonard Cheshire Disability, as part of its Untapped Talent campaign on disability employment, that 60 per cent of young disabled people said they did not receive the right support in order to move towards employment; encourages the Government to do more to …
59 signatures
(Most recent: 24 Jan 2018)
Signatures by party:
Labour: 29
Scottish National Party: 17
Independent: 4
Conservative: 3
Democratic Unionist Party: 2
Liberal Democrat: 2
Crossbench: 1
The Independent Group for Change: 1
Green Party: 1
View All Bim Afolami's signed Early Day Motions

Commons initiatives

These initiatives were driven by Bim Afolami, and are more likely to reflect personal policy preferences.

MPs who are act as Ministers or Shadow Ministers are generally restricted from performing Commons initiatives other than Urgent Questions.


Bim Afolami has not been granted any Urgent Questions

1 Adjournment Debate led by Bim Afolami

3 Bills introduced by Bim Afolami


A Bill to provide the British Library Board with a power to borrow money.

This Bill received Royal Assent on 29th April 2021 and was enacted into law.


The Bill failed to complete its passage through Parliament before the end of the session. This means the Bill will make no further progress. A Bill to make provision about substance testing in prisons and similar institutions.

Commons - 20%

Last Event - 1st Reading: House Of Commons
Tuesday 17th April 2018
(Read Debate)

The Bill failed to complete its passage through Parliament before the end of the session. This means the Bill will make no further progress. A Bill to make provision for a single compensation scheme for passengers across train operators; to require train operators to pay automatic compensation to season ticket holders and certain other passengers where certain standards of service are not met; to allow train operators to recover compensation paid to passengers from Network Rail in certain circumstances; to establish a body to administer rail compensation; and for connected purposes.

Commons - 20%

Last Event - 1st Reading: House Of Commons
Wednesday 4th July 2018

Bim Afolami has not co-sponsored any Bills in the current parliamentary sitting


Latest 50 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
2nd Sep 2022
To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office, if his Department will make an estimate of the number of Ukrainian refugees who are in work in Hitchin and Harpenden constituency as on 2 September 2022.

The information requested falls under the remit of the UK Statistics Authority.

A response to the hon. Member’s Parliamentary Question of 2nd September is attached.

Edward Argar
Minister of State (Ministry of Justice)
2nd Sep 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what steps the Government is taking to help mitigate the impact of new onshore renewable energy projects on local communities.

The Government recognises that renewable energy projects can have local impacts. There are established routes in the planning system that require local impacts to be measured and controlled (such as through Environmental Impact Assessments), that enable communities to raise concerns about renewable energy developments in their area, and that ensure the adverse impacts of these developments are addressed satisfactorily prior to consent being granted.

Graham Stuart
Minister of State (Department for Energy Security and Net Zero)
2nd Sep 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what steps his Department is taking to support the roll out of (a) nuclear energy, (b) onshore renewable energy and (c) offshore renewable energy schemes.

The Government published the British Energy Security Strategy in April, which sets out the UK’s ambitions for deployment of low-carbon energy, including nuclear and renewables.

Graham Stuart
Minister of State (Department for Energy Security and Net Zero)
2nd Sep 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what recent steps his Department has taken to help support businesses with rising energy costs.

The Government announced a new six-month scheme – the Energy Price Guarantee for Businesses (EPGB) – to protect all businesses and other non-domestic energy users from soaring energy costs. The scheme will offer comparable support to that being provided for consumers and we expect the scheme to be available in the autumn. After this initial six-month scheme the Government will provide focused support for vulnerable sectors, targeted to make sure those most in need get support.

The Government is also providing a 50% business rates relief for businesses across the UK and reducing employer’s national insurance. This is in addition to the billions in grants and loans offered throughout the pandemic.

Graham Stuart
Minister of State (Department for Energy Security and Net Zero)
2nd Sep 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what steps the Government is taking to support people in Hitchin and Harpenden constituency with the price of (a) heating oil and (b) gas for private homes.

The Government recognises that heating oil prices have risen steeply over the past year and sympathises with consumers who rely on this fuel for everyday use.

The Government has announced a new energy price guarantee to reduce bills for households on gas and electricity by an average of £1,000 for the typical household. For households who do not use gas for domestic heating, the Government has committed to provide an additional payment of £100 to compensate for the rising costs of other fuels such as heating oil.

Graham Stuart
Minister of State (Department for Energy Security and Net Zero)
19th Apr 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what plans his Department has to engage with local communities on the building of renewable energy projects, such as onshore wind farms.

The Government wants to encourage renewable energy developers to continue to engage with local communities as the Government increased deployment to reach net zero.

The Government recognises there are ranges of views on onshore wind and the Government wants to put communities in control of hosting onshore sites. In the British Energy Security Strategy, the Government committed to develop onshore wind partnerships in England. This will enable supportive communities to host new onshore wind infrastructure and enjoy the benefits of doing so, through developers supporting local energy discounts and new community infrastructure projects.

The Government will consult on the partnerships scheme later this year.

Greg Hands
Minister of State (Department for Business and Trade)
12th Nov 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what plans his Department has for the future funding of Local Enterprise Partnerships.

Decisions around the future funding of Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) beyond this financial year will be communicated in due course.

15th Oct 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what steps his Department is taking to support small- and medium-sized enterprises to transition to net zero.

The Department is taking many steps to encourage SMEs to transition to Net Zero and to support SMEs through the barriers which prevent the transition.

Ahead of COP26, BEIS has launched the Together for Our Planet Business Climate Leaders’ campaign, which has encouraged over 1,900 small and micro businesses across the UK to join the Race to Zero by making the SME Climate Commitment.

In order to help SMEs overcome barriers to investing in energy efficiency BEIS launched the Boosting Access for SMEs to Energy Efficiency innovation competition. The competition offered up to £6m to fund the development of new, innovative market solutions that can provide businesses with tailored energy efficiency advice, as well as simplifying the energy efficiency investment processes through the creation of one-stop-shop platforms.

I have recently given the British Business Bank a new mission to drive sustainable growth and prosperity across the UK, and to enable the transition to a net zero economy, by supporting access to finance for smaller businesses. Between 2014 and the third quarter of 2020 a total of £160m has been invested into clean technology businesses by equity funds backed by the British Business Bank.

Greg Hands
Minister of State (Department for Business and Trade)
2nd Sep 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, how much the Government (a) has invested and (b) plans to invest in grassroots sports facilities in Hitchin and Harpenden constituency between 2019 and 2024.

Sport and physical activity are incredibly important for our physical and mental health and everyone, regardless of their background, should have access to and benefit from quality sport and physical activity opportunities.

Since 2019, the department, through Sport England, has invested 24 grants totalling £171,061 into a wide range of grassroots sport projects within the Hitchin and Harpenden constituency. In addition, the Football Foundation, a charity jointly-funded by Sport England, has awarded £944,850 to develop football and multi-use grassroots sports facilities in the same period.

Sport England continues to work with Local Authorities and grassroots sports facilities to ensure that future funding is targeted where it can best improve access to sport and physical activity.

Nigel Huddleston
Financial Secretary (HM Treasury)
2nd Sep 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what steps the Government is taking to (a) support and (b) accelerate the roll-out of (i) full-fibre broadband and (ii) 5g in rural communities.

In March 2021 we launched Project Gigabit, our £5 billion mission to deliver lightning-fast, reliable broadband across the UK. Project Gigabit’s objective is to level up the UK by giving hard-to-reach areas access to gigabit-capable internet speeds and, coupled with commercial gigabit delivery, ensuring almost all of the UK has access to gigabit-capable internet as soon as possible.

Our Project Gigabit procurements are prioritising delivery to rural, hard-to-reach premises and to those with the lowest broadband speeds. We have recently signed our first local Project Gigabit contract in North Dorset and expect to award further contracts over the coming months.

Furthermore, up to £210 million is available for Gigabit Broadband Vouchers, which are already helping communities that are not in line for commercial connections right now.

Building Digital UK’s legacy and current programmes have already upgraded over 740,000 hard-to-reach premises to gigabit speeds, and we are continuing to move at pace.

5G network rollout is a matter for industry, but we have seen good progress. Up to half of the properties in the UK are located in an area with outdoor 5G coverage available from at least one mobile network operator according to the latest statistics from communications regulator Ofcom.

We recently made reforms to the planning system to support the deployment of 5G and extend mobile coverage. The changes, which came into force on 4 April 2022, enable operators to upgrade existing sites for 5G and share infrastructure to improve mobile coverage, particularly in more rural areas. We are reducing further barriers to deployment by legislating to reform the Electronic Communications Code through the Product Security and Telecommunications Infrastructure Bill.

The Government is developing a Wireless Infrastructure Strategy to set out a strategic framework for the deployment and adoption of 5G, and within the Strategy we will be establishing a new ambition for 5G.

Julia Lopez
Minister of State (Department for Science, Innovation and Technology)
3rd Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, how much financial support the Government has provided to grassroots sport in Hitchin and Harpenden constituency in each of the last three years.

Sports and physical activity are incredibly important for our physical and mental health and all generations and communities should be able to enjoy the health, wellbeing, social and other benefits of being active. Due to this, the government made sure that people could exercise at least once a day even during the height of the first period of enhanced national restrictions and we opened up grassroots sport and leisure facilities as soon as it was safe to do so.

Since April 2018, the Department has invested £218,711 into grassroots sport projects within the Hitchin and Harpenden constituency through Sport England. This sum includes £45,189 from Sport England’s Community Emergency Fund to support local sports clubs and community organisations through the coronavirus pandemic, and £18,144 in Return to Play, which are small grants to support a return to sport and physical activity as coronavirus restrictions are lifted.

The investment breakdown per year: 2018/19: £60,000, 2019/20: £33,428, 2020/21: £69,034 and 2021/22 (to June 2021): £56,249.

Nigel Huddleston
Financial Secretary (HM Treasury)
6th Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, whether the Government plans to reform the Electronic Communications Code to make it easier for companies to install infrastructure to support full fibre gigabit broadband in blocks of flats and rural land.

My Department published a consultation in January 2021 asking whether further reforms to the Electronic Communications Code are needed in order to ensure the Code provides the right legislative framework to promote fast, cost effective network provision. The consultation covered a range of issues, including matters relating to negotiations and dispute resolution, rights to upgrade and share apparatus and problems relating to the renewal of expired agreements.

This consultation closed on 24 March 2021. It would not be appropriate for me to comment on the possible outcomes of the consultation at this stage, as responses are being considered. The consultation response will be published in due course and we will bring legislation forward as soon as parliamentary time allows.

The Telecommunications Infrastructure (Leasehold Property) Act gained Royal Assent in March 2021. This Act aims to address one stated policy barrier: making it easier for telecoms companies to access multi-dwelling buildings (such as blocks of flats) where a tenant has requested a new connection, but the landlord has not responded to requests for access rights.

The Act inserts a new Part 4A to the Electronic Communication Code which provides a process that telecommunications operators could use to gain code rights to multi-dwelling premises for a defined period. This only applies where:

  • a lessee in occupation in a multi-dwelling building has requested a telecommunications service from an operator

  • to connect the property the telecoms operator requires an access agreement with another person such as the landlord

  • the landlord has not responded to the telecoms operator’s request for access

My Department has also recently launched a consultation which seeks views on the terms which will accompany the interim Code rights provided to operators who have successfully applied for an order made under Part 4A of the Electronic Communications Code. This consultation closes on Wednesday 4 August. Responses will be considered and the consultation response will be published in due course.

2nd Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what assessment the Government has made of the potential merits of increasing the allocation of funding for (a) VE and (b) VJ day to be equal to that allocated to Remembrance Sunday.

As for Remembrance Sunday, VE and VJ Day events are funded and delivered by a wide range of organisations. As well as central Government support for the National commemorations, local communities are delivering projects and events across the nation to commemorate both VE and VJ Day.

Nigel Huddleston
Financial Secretary (HM Treasury)
2nd Sep 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps the Government is taking to promote the apprenticeship route to young people in secondary education.

The department’s new ‘Career Starter Apprenticeships’ campaign showcases apprenticeship standards which offer great opportunities for those looking for their first role after leaving full-time education.

The first featured apprenticeships, all at level 2 and 3, launched in August. More information on the campaign can be found here: https://www.apprenticeships.gov.uk/apprentices/career-starter-apprenticeships, and more featured apprenticeships will be published over the coming months.

The department also continues to promote apprenticeships in schools and colleges through our Apprenticeship Support & Knowledge programme. This free service provides resources and interventions to help better educate young people about apprenticeships. Since September 2021 it has reached over 685,000 students and over 2,500 schools.

Alongside this, our ‘Get the Jump’ campaign is raising awareness and understanding of the full range of education and training choices available to young people. More information is available at: https://nationalcareers.service.gov.uk/explore-your-education-and-training-choices.

2nd Sep 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps his Department is taking to help encourage employers to provide high quality apprenticeships.

The department wants more employers to offer high-quality apprenticeships. We are increasing funding for apprenticeships in England to £2.7 billion by the 2024/25 financial year. Employers who pay the apprenticeship levy can make use of their levy funds, topped up by 10% by the government, to fund apprenticeship training and assessment in their businesses, and smaller employers can reserve funding for up to 10 new apprenticeships.

We are encouraging the use of more flexible training models, such as accelerated and flexi-job apprenticeships, so that employers in all sectors can benefit from apprenticeships and apprentices can attain occupational competence as quickly as possible. We also continue to make improvements to the apprenticeship levy transfer system to make it easier for large employers to make full use of their levy funds and support starts in their supply chain, sector, or local area, and to support more employers, including SMEs, to meet local or sectorial skills needs

We want to make sure that every apprentice has a high-quality experience. To achieve this, we are further improving quality by investing in a comprehensive package of professional development for apprenticeship training providers and their workforces, and by giving employers the tools, advice, and direction they need to provide high-quality experiences for their apprentices.

2nd Sep 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, whether the Government plans to compensate students who attended university during the covid-19 pandemic for missed in-person teaching.

The unprecedented and unique nature of the COVID-19 pandemic necessitated changes to the way higher education (HE) providers delivered their teaching.

The former Minister for Higher and Further Education wrote to all English HE providers to make clear that they are expected to offer a high-quality, face-to-face student experience. Online learning should only be offered to enhance the student experience, not to detract from it, and it should not be used as a cost-cutting measure. The former Secretary of State for Education wrote an open letter to students about face-to-face teaching, setting out what they can do if they feel they are not getting the teaching they signed up for.

HE providers are independent and autonomous bodies who are responsible for the management of their own affairs. If current or former students have concerns about the delivery of their university courses, they should first raise them with their provider. If their concerns remain unresolved, students at providers in England or Wales can ask the Office of the Independent Adjudicator (OIA) for HE to consider their complaint. OIA recommendations can include practical remedies as well as financial compensation, where that is deemed appropriate.

2nd Sep 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what recent estimate his Department has made of the number of (a) apprenticeships placements and (b) apprenticeship vacancies are available in Hertfordshire.

The department is committed to supporting employers and individuals across the country to benefit from the high-quality training that apprenticeships offer.

The latest published statistics show that in the first three quarters of the 2021/2022 academic year, or August 2021 to April 2022, there were 4,960 apprenticeship starts in Hertfordshire.

As of 6 September 2022, there are currently 311 adverts comprising 407 vacancies within Hertfordshire posted on our Find An Apprenticeship service. Individuals can also find and apply for apprenticeship vacancies through an employer’s website, recruitment agencies, or local job centres, meaning that the actual number of apprenticeship vacancies in Hertfordshire will likely be higher than the stated figure.

2nd Sep 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what recent steps his Department has taken to help support the education of students with special educational needs.

The department has increased high needs funding by £1.65 billion over two years, bringing total high needs funding to over £9.7 billion by the 2023/24 financial year. We are providing additional support to local authorities through our Safety Valve and Delivering Better Value in Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) programmes. These programmes will help local authorities provide effective and sustainable services that will support children and young people with SEND to achieve better outcomes.

Alongside this, the department is investing up to £18 million in supported internships over the next three years, aiming to double the number of supported internships by 2025. This will help more young people with education, health and care (EHC) plans have the skills they need to secure and sustain paid employment.

Later this year, the department will publish a National Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) and Alternative Provision (AP) improvement plan, setting out our response to the SEND and AP Green Paper consultation and the next steps for implementation of system reform.

2nd Sep 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, whether the Government is planning to take steps to support schools in Hitchin and Harpenden constituency with their energy bills over the coming winter.

Significant cash increases to school funding will help schools to manage these higher costs. Overall, core schools funding (including funding for both mainstream schools and high needs) is increasing by £4 billion in 2022/23 compared to the previous year.

Schools in Hitchin and Harpenden are attracting £81.6 million in total this year, a 4% cash increase. This reflects 3% more per pupil in their pupil-led funding compared to 2021/22. Schools’ actual allocations in 2022/23 will be based on local authorities’ local funding formulae.

On top of this funding through the National Funding Formula, schools in Hitchin and Harpenden are seeing £2.4 million through the Schools Supplementary Grant.

Schools will also benefit from the Energy Bill Relief Scheme, which will run until at least the 31 March 2023. This will reduce how much schools need to spend on their energy, and give schools greater certainty over their budgets over the winter months.

Any school which has signed a fixed energy contract since April 2022 will be eligible for support if, at the time they signed their contact, wholesale prices for the next 6 months were expected to be higher than the Government supported price of £211/MWh for electricity, and £75/MWh for gas.

For example, a school which uses 10 MWh of electricity and 22 MWh of gas a month and signed a fixed contract giving them a current monthly energy bill of about £10,000, would receive support based on the difference between expected wholesale prices when they signed their contract and the Government supported price. For a contract signed in July 2022, this could be worth £240/MWh for electricity and £70/MWh for gas, meaning the school receives a discount of £4,000 per month, reducing their original bill by 40%.

Support will also be available to schools on variable, deemed and other contracts.

There will be a review in 3 months time to determine how the scheme should best be targeted beyond this period to focus support on vulnerable sectors.

The details of the scheme can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/energy-bill-relief-scheme-help-for-businesses-and-other-non-domestic-customers.

More broadly, the Department allocates annual capital funding to improve the condition of school buildings, including through improving energy efficiency. The Department has allocated over £13 billion in condition funding since 2015, including £1.8 billion this financial year. In addition, the School Rebuilding Programme will transform 500 schools over the next decade, with all new buildings delivered through the programme designed to be net zero carbon in operation. Schools can also access funding specifically for carbon reduction and energy efficiency measures through the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy’s Public Sector Decarbonisation Fund.

Every school’s circumstances are different, and where schools are in serious financial difficulty, they should contact their local authority or the Education and Skills Funding Agency.

22nd Feb 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps his Department is taking to improve access to student finance for British National Overseas students.

To qualify for student finance in England, a person must have settled status or a recognised connection to the UK. This includes persons who are covered by EU law, have long residence in this country, or who have been granted international protection by the Home Office.

Subject to meeting the normal eligibility requirements, Hong Kong British Nationals (overseas) status holders will qualify for student finance once they have acquired settled status in the UK, as is the case for the majority of persons who are on a five-year route to settlement.

Michelle Donelan
Secretary of State for Science, Innovation and Technology
22nd Nov 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what the per pupil funding is for schools in Hitchin and Harpenden constituency for the academic year (a) 2021-22, (b) 2022-23 and (c) 2023-24.

Schools in Hitchin and Harpenden are attracting £4,862 per pupil through the schools national funding formula (NFF) in the 2021-22 financial year. This will increase to £5,007 per pupil in the 2022-23 financial year and is based on notional school-level NFF allocations.

The department is investing a further £4.7 billion by the 2024-25 financial year for the core schools budget in England, over and above the Spending Review 2019 settlement for schools in 2022-23.

This includes a further £1.6 billion for schools and high needs in 2022-23, on top of the notional school-level NFF allocations set out above. The department will announce the distribution of this additional funding for 2022-23 shortly. The department will make announcements on the breakdown of the 2023-24 and 2024-25 financial year core school budget in due course.

22nd Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, if he will make an assessment of the potential merits of locating an Institute of Technology in Hertfordshire for (a) people and (b) businesses in that county.

The department is conducting a competition to deliver our manifesto commitment to establish 8 more high quality Institutes of Technology (IoT). The selected 8 will join the 12 IoTs that have already been established. While it would not be appropriate to comment on the merits of any individual proposal, the department can confirm that we have received an application for the Hertfordshire area. Proposals are being assessed and we plan to announce the outcome of the competition in the autumn.

Michelle Donelan
Secretary of State for Science, Innovation and Technology
5th Jul 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps she is taking to improve the management of fly tipping in Hertfordshire.

The role of central Government in tackling fly-tipping is to support local action. Across two rounds of our fly-tipping grant scheme, we have now awarded nearly £1.2m to help more than 30 councils purchase equipment to tackle fly-tipping at known hot-spots; recipients include Stevenage Borough Council who received just over £26,000 to install mobile CCTV and signage to deter perpetrators.

The Prime Minister’s Anti-Social Behaviour Action Plan sets out how we will support councils to take tougher action against those who fly-tip. This includes a commitment to significantly raise the upper limit on fixed penalty notices this year, to £1,000 for fly-tipping and £600 for people who give their waste to an unauthorised carrier.

Defra chairs the National Fly-Tipping Prevention Group, through which we work with a wide range of interested parties, including the Hertfordshire Waste Partnership, to promote and disseminate good practice with regards to preventing fly-tipping.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
25th Oct 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, if he will make it his policy to ensure a cross government approach on chemicals management which involves a commitment to (a) reducing exposure in the general population and (a) acknowledging the links between chemical exposure in the population and increased cancer risk.

Our goal is to protect human health and the environment while enabling economic growth through managing the production, use and disposal of chemicals. We already have robust systems to identify the impact of chemicals, and to regulate them. We are currently developing our approach further to build on the commitment in the 25 Year Environment Plan to set out our strategy to tackling chemicals of concern and to significantly reduce the levels of harmful chemicals entering the environment. Defra continues to work closely with other government departments, arms-length bodies, and the Devolved Administrations to ensure a joined-up and UK-wide approach.

The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) plays a key role in protecting against and reducing exposure to chemical and environmental hazards thereby preventing cancer from exposure to chemicals. The primary focus of UKHSA’s work is on hazard characterisation and risk assessment including:

  • research into the potential human health effects including carcinogenic properties of fibre and particles, biocides, volatile organic plus other chemicals used in consumer products or present in the environment.
  • biomonitoring to determine the overall exposure to man-made and natural chemicals which is essential to evaluate risk.
  • advising Defra, the Health and Safety Executive and other Government departments on the human health effects of chemicals in respect of their public health risks.
Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
25th Oct 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, if he will take steps to introduce hazard-based protection measures for reducing exposures to endocrine disrupting chemicals; and if he will amend the classification, labelling and packaging regulations to introduce new hazard classes on endocrine disruptors and suspected endocrine disruptors.

The issue of endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs), which have been linked to numerous human health and wildlife impacts, is scientifically complex. There is uncertainty surrounding the effects of EDC exposure from both an environmental and human health perspective, and we are contributing to international efforts to address the evidence gaps. We are considering the evidence available and drawing on a range of expertise with the aim of improving testing and identification of EDCs and assessing measures to further understand and manage the risks they pose.

The identification of intrinsic chemical hazards is a principal requirement of the classification, labelling and packaging regulation (CLP). The hazard classes in CLP cover physical, human health and environmental hazards. Endocrine disrupting properties are not captured by a specific CLP hazard class because they are a result of a mode of action rather than an intrinsic hazardous property. However, chemicals with human health endocrine disrupting properties are effectively covered in CLP by the closely related CMR (carcinogenic, mutagenic, toxic to reproduction) hazard classes.

The hazard classification of a chemical is often used as a starting point for specific controls or protective measures and is the basis for many regulatory and legislative provisions in the risk management of chemicals. Endocrine disrupting properties are specifically taken into account by the regulatory regimes covering the use of pesticides and biocides, where identification of such properties prompts specific control measures.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
25th Oct 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, whether UK authorities routinely monitor all scientific literature for studies that show deleterious effects of hazardous chemicals.

The Environment Agency (EA) has developed a Prioritisation and Early Warning System (PEWS) for chemicals of emerging concern to ensure consideration of the potential risks of emerging chemicals including to surface waters (both freshwater and saline waters), groundwater and soils. The EA routinely monitors a sub-set of the scientific literature for determining which chemicals of emerging concern we should focus on as part of this work. The system allows the EA to sift and to screen any chemical substance nominated using, where available, hazard data and environmental monitoring data to prioritise whether a substance may be a possible chemical of concern in England.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
25th Oct 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, whether UK REACH will seek to maintain alignment with EU Chemicals Regulations (EU REACH) beyond 31 December 2023.

UK REACH retains the fundamental approach and key principles of EU REACH, ensuring a high level of protection of human health and the environment. Having our own independent regulatory framework for chemicals allows us to identify the most pressing priorities which best reflect the specific circumstances in GB. The decisions we take are based on the best available evidence, including looking at approaches taken by chemical regimes across the world, including the EU.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
2nd Sep 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what additional support his Department has provided to farmers since the UK left the EU on 31 January 2020.

We will maintain current average levels of investment in farming of £2.4 billion per year in England over the life of this Parliament. All funding released from reductions in Direct Payments are being re-invested into delivering new schemes that contribute to our three goals: supporting viable businesses, maintaining food production at its current level, and achieving animal health, welfare and climate outcomes.

For example, we are introducing three new schemes that reward environmental benefits including the Sustainable Farming Incentive which farmers and land managers can now apply online for.

Defra has also launched the new Farming Investment Fund which offers funding for equipment, technology, and infrastructure that improves farm productivity and benefits the environment.

Last October, we launched the Farming Innovation Programme with an initial £17.5 million, which encourages groups of farmers, growers, businesses, and researchers to get involved in collaborative research and development. This will support and drive adoption of new innovation by farmers and growers to ensure it can make a real difference.

Since 2020, farmers have continued to receive financial support for delivering environmental outcomes through the Environmental Stewardship and Countryside Stewardship agri-environment schemes. Since 2021, Defra has made a number of changes to improve the application process for farmers for Countryside Stewardship, and updated payment rates.

Mark Spencer
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
2nd Sep 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps he is taking with Cabinet colleagues to help protect high-grade agricultural land from (a) housing and (b) other non-agricultural developments.

We work closely with the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities to ensure that planning supports agriculture and food production as well as delivering other goals. This is reflected in the National Planning Policy Framework. The Framework makes clear that local planning authorities should take into account all the benefits of the best and most versatile agricultural land.

Where significant development of agricultural land is shown to be necessary, planning authorities should seek to use poorer quality land in preference to that of a higher quality.

Mark Spencer
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
2nd Sep 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps his Department is taking to help (a) farmers and (b) food producers in Hitchin and Harpenden constituency use sustainable farming methods.

Farming in England is now going through the biggest change in a generation. As government, our approach to working with the farming sector is changing too. Food is still the primary purpose of farming, and always will be. But if we want farming and food production to be resilient and sustainable over the long term, then farming and nature can and must go hand in hand.

In 2022 we started to roll out some core elements of the Sustainable Farming Incentive (SFI). We will gradually expand the scheme until all elements are available from 2024/25 onwards. In its early years, the scheme will focus on supporting and maintaining environmentally sustainable farming improvements that most farmers can make, such as soil and livestock management, pesticide use and fertiliser use. The core elements of the SFI that are available as of June 2022 are: arable and horticultural soils standard; improved grassland soils standard; and moorland standard which will be followed by the Annual Health and Welfare Review.

Local Nature Recovery is the improved and more ambitious successor to the Countryside Stewardship scheme in England. It will pay for locally-targeted actions to make space for nature in the farmed landscape and the wider countryside, alongside food production. We plan to make an early version of the scheme available to a limited number of people in 2023 as part of our plans for testing and rolling out the scheme. We will then roll out the scheme across the whole country by the end of 2024.

Mark Spencer
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
2nd Sep 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, if his Department will make an assessment of the potential impact on farming communities of being located within an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

The power to consider areas for Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) designation lies with Natural England (NE), which then makes an order to be confirmed by the Secretary of State.

NE's designation assessment process includes the consideration of the statutory criterion for AONB designation (outstanding natural beauty), including relevant factors of landscape and scenic quality, relative wildness, relative tranquillity, and the contributions made to natural beauty by natural and cultural heritage features and associations. NE's assessment process also includes working collaboratively with local partners to ensure there are good engagement and consultation opportunities during the process, which will take into consideration the impact of views presented by farmers, local communities, statutory bodies, stakeholder organisations, landowners, and the wider public.

Mark Spencer
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
2nd Sep 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment his Department has made of the potential merits for a community of being included in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

The power to consider areas for Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) designation lies with Natural England (NE), which then makes an order to be confirmed by the Secretary of State.

NE's designation assessment process includes the consideration of the statutory criterion for AONB designation (outstanding natural beauty), including relevant factors of landscape and scenic quality, relative wildness, relative tranquillity, and the contributions made to natural beauty by natural and cultural heritage features and associations. NE's assessment process also includes working collaboratively with local partners to ensure there are good engagement and consultation opportunities during the process, which will take into consideration the impact of views presented by farmers, local communities, statutory bodies, stakeholder organisations, landowners, and the wider public.

Mark Spencer
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
2nd Sep 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, if his Department will make an assessment of the potential merits of including rural areas in Hitchin and Harpenden constituency in an extension of the Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

The power to consider areas for Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) designation lies with Natural England (NE), which then makes an order to be confirmed by the Secretary of State. NE announced its current designation programme in 2021, which includes considering a variation to extend the boundary of the existing Chilterns AONB.

The Area of Search which is being assessed for potential designation includes an area in the Hitchen and Harpenden Area. Some areas of Hitchin are already included in the current Chilterns AONB.

The designation process will include a detailed assessment of the natural beauty of the area proposed for designation, and the desirability of designating the area.

In its assessment of the proposed extension, Natural England will work collaboratively with local partners to ensure there are good engagement and consultation opportunities during the process including statutory bodies, stakeholder organisations, landowners, farmers and the public.

2nd Sep 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps his Department is planning to take to help encourage (a) tree planting, (b) re-wilding and (c) wider planting in rural communities, including in Hitchin and Harpenden constituency.

Our England Trees Action Plan (ETAP), published in May 2021, sets out the long-term, generational vision for trees and forestry to 2050. It recognises the vital contribution trees can make, including to nature recovery, Net Zero, and health and wellbeing.

ETAP details how we will treble tree planting rates in England by the end of this Parliament, contributing to 30,000 hectares of new trees per year across the UK by 2025. The Plan is supported by the £675 million Nature for Climate Fund.

This includes launching the England Woodland Creation Offer with over £15 million available in this year alone to support woodland creation from as little as 1 hectare, in blocks of 0.1 hectares. The Offer includes funding for natural colonisation, which allows trees to seed and grow naturally next to existing trees.

The Government is continuing to support the creation and enhancement of wilder landscapes as part of our broader approach to nature recovery including, where appropriate, species reintroductions. However, we recognise that as an approach, rewilding is not appropriate in all situations, and is not the only means of delivering the Government’s environmental goals.

Locally we have supported a variety of tree planting and establishment projects including over £25 million for our Woodland Creation Partnerships this year, establishing three new Community Forests with over 1,000 hectares of new woodland being planted across the total 13 Community Forests since 2020, up to £4.4 million available to rural communities through the Local Authority Treescapes Fund, and launched the ground-breaking Woodland Creation Accelerator Fund, which will have a total value of just under £8 million to provide financial support to local authorities to increase their capacity and specialist skills.

The Forestry Commission estimates that there were at least 400,000 newly planted trees with Government support in woodland in the 12 years 3 months from 1 April 2010 to 30 June 2022, in the Hitchin and Harpenden constituency.

2nd Sep 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, if his Department will make an assessment of the potential merits of granting bathing water designation to the River Lea in Harpenden and Wheathampstead.

Bathing waters are designated through an application process and Defra welcomes applications for designation for both coastal and inland waters such as rivers. Local authorities, groups and individuals can apply for sites to be designated. Defra encourages this by writing to the Chief Executive of every local authority in England and other key stakeholders such as swimming associations. It is these local authorities and stakeholders who will best know which popular bathing areas may be suitable for designation.

For further information, please visit our web page on gov.uk: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/bathing-waters-apply-for-designation-or-de-designation

2nd Sep 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps his Department is taking to help enhance chalk streams located in Hitchin and Harpenden constituency, including in the river (a) Hiz, (b) Oughton, (c) Purwell, (d) Mimram, (e) Lea and (f) Ver.

The Government and the Environment Agency (EA) is implementing actions identified in the Catchment Based Approach (CaBA) Chalk Streams Restoration Strategy, including improving its assessment of the flow pressure in chalk streams and working with partners to identify actions to improve flows.

Within the Hitchin and Harpenden constituency, the EA is working with the Catchment Partnership to develop river restoration projects on chalk streams near Whitwell. Further downstream on the River Mimram, it is engaging with landowners and working with Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust on sites at Digswell and Panshanger Park to narrow over wide and straightened channels.

On the River Lea, the EA is working with Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust to improve sites at Batford Springs Nature Reserve and at the Meads in Wheathampstead, stabilising banks and improving in channel and bankside vegetation.

On the River Ver, the EA is working with St Albans District Council to revitalise the water environment in Verulamium Park, restoring the River Ver to a more natural chalk stream, more resilient to climate change, and better able to support iconic chalk stream biodiversity. It has also been engaging with the Gorhambury estate to develop restoration projects.

The EA is currently in discussions with Affinity Water concerning an environmental improvement project for the River Hiz and securing funds though Ofwat’s Price Review process. In addition, since 1996, an augmentation scheme has been operational for the Rivers Hiz and Oughton to supplement flows from groundwater in times of dry weather to mitigate against the impact of abstraction.

The Government and the EA will continue to work with Water Resources East and Water Resources South East to define the long term environmental ambition for the area, including that for chalk streams.

2nd Sep 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what data his Department holds on the number of trees planted in Hitchin and Harpenden constituency since 2010.

The Forestry Commission publishes statistics on new planting of woodland, and trees outside woodland, in England. For most Government supported new planting of woodland there are accompanying related geospatial data on its location. From these datasets our best estimate is that there were at least 400,000 newly planted trees with government support in woodland in the 12 years 3 months, from 1 April 2010 to 30 June 2022, in the Hitchin and Harpenden constituency.

2nd Sep 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps his Department is taking to support (a) farmers and (b) food producers in Hitchin and Harpenden constituency with extreme temperatures.

For some farmers, the hot, dry weather has had an impact on crop growth, yield and quality and has been of concern to growers in the arable and horticulture sectors. The main impacts appear to be on non-irrigated horticulture crops dependent on rainfall and the availability of grass for both grazing and conservation as winter animal feed.

The impacts will vary by region, crop and soil type among other factors. It is still too soon to say with certainty the final impact of the hot and dry conditions on crops.

To support farmers in the immediate term we have instructed the Environment Agency to take a flexible regulatory approach to its water abstraction decisions. Additionally, on 17 August we announced easements on Countryside Stewardship and Environmental Stewardship rules allowing farmers to cut or graze areas of land set aside in their agreements. These measures will last until the end of 2022, making it easier for farmers to provide food for livestock.

We continue to keep the situation under close review and have increased engagement with industry to supplement Government analysis with real-time intelligence. This provides the Government with the best possible intelligence on how the sector is coping.

Mark Spencer
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
19th Apr 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what recent steps his Department has taken to improve animal welfare.

This Government published the Action Plan for Animal Welfare on 12 May 2021, setting out over 40 commitments on animal welfare and conservation. Since its publication, a programme of primary and secondary legislation has started to take forward many measures, alongside some non-legislative reforms.

We delivered our Manifesto commitment to increase the maximum prison sentence for animal cruelty from six months to five years through the Animal Sentencing Act. This came into force in June 2021.

The Animal Welfare (Sentience) Bill has successfully completed its Parliamentary passage and is awaiting Royal Assent. It establishes an Animal Sentience Committee to consider how individual central government policy decisions take account of animal welfare. It also recognises that decapod crustaceans and cephalopod molluscs are sentient.

The Animal Welfare (Kept Animals) Bill has completed its Commons Committee Stage and, following the passing of a carryover motion by the House, will continue its passage in the next Session. The Bill delivers manifesto commitments relating to banning live exports, banning primates as pets, and tackling puppy smuggling. It also includes the new pet abduction offence in response to a recommendation from the cross-government Pet Theft Taskforce.

We are supporting two Private Members Bills. The Animal (Penalty Notices) Bill is awaiting Royal Assent and the Glue Trap (Offences) Bill is awaiting its Third Reading in the House of Lords.

Alongside these legislative reforms, Defra has launched Calls for Evidence on welfare labelling and the fur trade and launched consultations on puppy smuggling and zoo licensing standards. Defra has also published government responses to consultations on implementing and enforcing the Ivory Act, banning the shark fin trade, introducing welfare in transport reforms, mandating cat microchipping and banning trophy hunting.

Victoria Prentis
Attorney General
10th Dec 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, whether the Burge End Lane Pumping Station in Pirton is being considered as part of Ofwat and the Environment Agency’s investigation into sewage treatment works.

The investigation launched by the Environment Agency on 18 November aims to determine the extent of any non-compliance with environmental permit conditions relating to flows treated and discharged from sewage treatment works within England. The Environment Agency is unable to share any specific details of the investigation at this stage as this may prejudice future legal action. However as the pumping station you refer to at Pirton is not a sewage treatment works it does not form part of this particular investigation. For any concerns about pollution arising from the pumping station, please report these to the Environment Agency on its pollution hotline 0800 80 70 60.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
3rd Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, if his Department will make an assessment of the potential merits of a pilot scheme to consider the impact of biodiversity net gain in 2022 and 2023 before its full implementation in 2024.

We know that a number of local planning authorities and developers are already seeking biodiversity net gains from development and we are continuing to speak to industry and the planning sector to understand the issues and needs arising from pre-commencement practice.

Some aspects of the biodiversity net gain policy were tested, and evaluated, as part of the biodiversity offsetting pilots which took place from 2012 to 2014. We will shortly be consulting formally on more details of biodiversity net gain’s implementation and will consider which components of the approach might benefit from pre-commencement testing as part of this.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
18th Aug 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps his Department is taking to (a) tackle the increase in fly-tipping in rural communities and (b) prosecute the perpetrators of fly-tipping.

The Government is committed to tackling fly-tipping wherever it takes place, including in rural communities.

Defra chairs the National Fly-Tipping Prevention Group (NFTPG), through which we work with a wide range of interested parties such as the National Farmers Union, Campaign to Protect Rural England, Countryside Alliance and the Country Land and business Association, to promote and disseminate good practice with regards to preventing fly-tipping, including on private land.

In April 2021 we commissioned a research project considering the drivers, deterrents and impacts of fly-tipping tipping, which will include consideration of rural areas. This research project is due to be completed before the end of this year and will support informed policy making. We are exploring additional funding opportunities, including supporting digital solutions.

Fly-tipping investigation and enforcement is the responsibility of local authorities, and the Environment Agency in certain circumstances. We expect enforcing authorities to investigate all incidents of fly-tipping and make use of the enforcement powers available to them where there is sufficient evidence; such as by issuing a fixed penalty notice or prosecuting fly-tippers and recovering investigation, enforcement and clearance costs where possible. We also encourage councils and others to publicise their enforcement activity.

Through the Environment Bill we are seeking powers to introduce an electronic waste tracking system. A comprehensive digital waste tracking system will help regulators detect when waste doesn’t reach the next stage, which may indicate illegal activity. This, along with other measures being introduced as part of the Bill (for example amendments to the section 108 powers of entry) will help to tackle waste crime, including fly-tipping.

We are working with the NFTPG to develop a fly-tipping toolkit which will help local authorities, landowners and others work in partnership to tackle this crime. The toolkit will cover, among other things, how to present robust cases to the courts to support suitable sentences.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
30th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, how much money has been disbursed by each local authority out of the £63 million that the Government allocated in June 2020 to be distributed by local authorities to help those struggling to afford food and other essentials as a result of the covid-19 outbreak.

Local Authorities (LAs) are best placed to understand the needs of the people they serve and respond in the most appropriate way. My officials worked closely with colleagues in the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) and Local Authorities to design the grant scheme in a way that ensured support was delivered quickly to those in need while maintaining appropriate controls and oversight. They did this through issuing guidance on what the money should be used for in general terms (for example, vouchers for food and essential supplies). Reporting requirements were designed to be light touch to make sure the money was spent on supporting people not administration. LAs are reporting expenditure to MHCLG as part of their normal processes and Defra will be collecting further evidence on how the money was spent.

Victoria Prentis
Attorney General
15th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what plans the Government has to help ensure that the (a) Convention on Biological Diversity framework and (b) COP 26 are coordinated in (i) work on and (ii) approach to tackling biodiversity loss and climate change.

Biodiversity loss and climate change are interlinked crises and cannot be tackled in isolation. This is why nature will be one of the key areas of focus at UNFCCC COP26 in Glasgow and why we will be pushing for the agreement of ambitious global targets for biodiversity at CBD COP15 in China.

To amplify the linkages between the two agendas, at COP26 we will be encouraging countries to use nature based solutions as a way to tackle biodiversity loss and climate change including mobilising more finance for nature, investing in sustainable and resilient agriculture and protecting important ecosystems such as forests. We will work with China to ensure that the outcomes of both COPs are mutually supportive.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
15th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps he is taking to help ensure that the UK is a global leader in policy advocacy for the conservation of nature.

We are committed to ensuring that the UK leads the world to promote a green, fair and resilient global recovery from the impacts of Covid-19 and central to that is the importance of resetting the global relationship with nature.

We will support the adoption of ambitious and practical targets on nature at the UN Convention on Biological Diversity Summit (COP15) in China next May, strengthened by coherent implementation mechanisms that will deliver a new global biodiversity framework that is commensurate with the scale of the challenge. Nature is also a top priority for our upcoming Presidency of UN Framework Convention on Climate Change Conference (COP26) next year and we are pushing for tangible and ambitious commitments from partner governments to champion nature and nature-based solutions. Given this, and the multi-faceted benefits of nature-based solutions, we are working with the Chinese Government, who are hosting COP15, to press for mutually reinforcing outcomes at the two Conferences. In addition, we will continue leading global ambition on conserving endangered species, following our hosting of the international Illegal Wildlife Trade Conference in 2018.

On marine biodiversity, we are driving forward efforts to protect and enhance the ocean and eliminate harmful fisheries practice as we have done domestically and in 2018 we launched the Commonwealth Clean Ocean Alliance with Vanuatu, which now convenes 34 Commonwealth countries to tackle plastic pollution. We have also committed to a new, £500 million Blue Planet Fund, and are building on the ‘30by30’ campaign which the UK launched at the UN General Assembly in 2018, leading the Global Ocean Alliance calling to protect 30% of the world’s global ocean by 2030. This ambitious target is underpinned by domestic commitments through the Blue Belt Programme, which is on course to deliver over 4 million square kilometres of protected ocean around the British Overseas Territories by the end of 2020.

Our international leadership on nature must be underpinned by credible action at home. In England, our 25 Year Environment Plan marked a step change in ambition for nature and the natural environment. We are taking action to fulfil this ambition by introducing bold new legislation and new funding to support nature’s recovery.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
2nd Sep 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what steps his Department is taking to help enforce noise restrictions in place at London Luton Airport.

The Government sets noise-related restrictions at the noise-designated airports (Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted) and ensures these airports assess their noise impacts on an annual basis. In the case of Heathrow Airport, the Civil Aviation Authority produces summer noise exposure contours. These inform Government of the areas most significantly affected by aircraft movements from Heathrow, and therefore those communities most likely to suffer aircraft noise-related health outcomes which should be prioritised by policy interventions.

At other airports, such as London Luton, restrictions are set locally, usually through the planning system. It is the responsibility of the local planning authority to conduct any necessary noise assessment and to enforce any restrictions.

As major airports with more than 50,000 movements per year, both Heathrow and London Luton Airports are also obliged under the Environmental Noise Regulations 2006, as amended, to produce noise maps and Noise Action Plans. Current Noise Action Plans cover the period 2019-2023, while the next round of planning will cover the period 2024-2028

Robert Courts
Solicitor General (Attorney General's Office)
2nd Sep 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what assessment his Department has made of the potential levels of noise pollution caused by operations at Heathrow Airport on communities in Hitchin and Harpenden constituency.

The Government sets noise-related restrictions at the noise-designated airports (Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted) and ensures these airports assess their noise impacts on an annual basis. In the case of Heathrow Airport, the Civil Aviation Authority produces summer noise exposure contours. These inform Government of the areas most significantly affected by aircraft movements from Heathrow, and therefore those communities most likely to suffer aircraft noise-related health outcomes which should be prioritised by policy interventions.

At other airports, such as London Luton, restrictions are set locally, usually through the planning system. It is the responsibility of the local planning authority to conduct any necessary noise assessment and to enforce any restrictions.

As major airports with more than 50,000 movements per year, both Heathrow and London Luton Airports are also obliged under the Environmental Noise Regulations 2006, as amended, to produce noise maps and Noise Action Plans. Current Noise Action Plans cover the period 2019-2023, while the next round of planning will cover the period 2024-2028

Robert Courts
Solicitor General (Attorney General's Office)