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Written Question
Water Restoration Fund
Thursday 29th February 2024

Asked by: Selaine Saxby (Conservative - North Devon)

Question to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs:

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, how much has been (a) raised for and (b) spent through the Water Restoration Fund since its implementation.

Answered by Robbie Moore - Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)

The Government is fully committed to the delivery of the Water Restoration Fund. As set out in the Plan for Water, environmental fines and penalties from water companies will be reinvested into the delivery of projects which improve the water environment. The Fund has yet to launch but further details will follow later this year.


Written Question
Sewage: Pollution
Thursday 29th February 2024

Asked by: Selaine Saxby (Conservative - North Devon)

Question to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs:

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, whether he has had discussions with (a) local authorities, (b) water companies and (c) Surfers Against Sewage on the terminology they use when issuing sewage alerts, in the context of potential confusion with storm overflows.

Answered by Robbie Moore - Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)

The Secretary of State has regular meetings with a wide range of stakeholders. Local authorities use information from the Environment Agency (EA) to issue pollution alerts relating to designated bathing waters in England, and Surfers Against Sewage use information from the EA’s Pollution Risk Forecasting service for bathing waters to inform the alerts they provide, along with information about storm overflow discharges.


Written Question
Rivers: Trees
Monday 26th February 2024

Asked by: Selaine Saxby (Conservative - North Devon)

Question to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs:

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, if he will make an estimate of the number of kilometres of tree cover there are along the banks of (a) rivers and (b) tributaries in England.

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

Defra can provide both a rapid indicative estimate and a longer-term definitive estimate to the question.

It will take within the region of two to four weeks’ time to produce an indicative estimate, with estimates solely based upon earth observation techniques.

It may take up to one year’s time to achieve a definitive answer, as we await the completion of field work undertaken as part of the Natural Capital Ecosystem Assessment.

The main difference between the indicative estimate and a comprehensive estimate is the ability to include smaller tree size and tributary sizes:

  • The indicative estimate would be derived from earth observation and would not include smaller trees less than 2.5m in height and would exclude smaller tributaries less than 0.5m in width.
  • The comprehensive estimate would be supported by field survey work that would include estimates for smaller trees down to 30cm in height and tributaries less than 0.5m in width.

Parochial estimates would be that possibly up to 30% of trees are less than 2.5m in height and 5% of tributaries are less than 0.5m in width.


Written Question
Timber
Monday 26th February 2024

Asked by: Selaine Saxby (Conservative - North Devon)

Question to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs:

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, whether his Department has taken steps to help increase domestic production of virgin and waste wood.

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

Trees are at the forefront of Government action on Net Zero – not just because of the carbon they lock up as they grow, but because of the carbon that stays locked up when timber is put into long-term use.

We have set a new legal target that will see tree cover reach 16.5% of England’s total land area by 2050, which will increase productive woodland.

Our Woodlands into Management Forestry Innovation Funds are supporting projects that will develop new technologies and working practices to help homegrown timber production meet demand.

Last year, we published the Timber in Construction Roadmap setting out the Government’s plan to increase the safe use of timber in construction in England.

We increased the recycling target for businesses handling wood packaging in 2024 to 42% (from 35% in 2023) and will be setting recycling targets to 2030 as part of the new packaging Extended Producer Responsibility Regulations that will come into force later this year.


Written Question
Water: Standards
Wednesday 31st January 2024

Asked by: Selaine Saxby (Conservative - North Devon)

Question to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs:

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, if he will (a) ask the Environment Agency to conduct bathing water tests in the context of the activation of storm overflows and (b) make an assessment of the potential merits of routinely conducting bathing water tests all year round.

Answered by Robbie Moore - Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)

Event duration monitoring (EDM) data shows how often storm overflows are active and for how long. Government directed water companies to increase their storm overflow monitoring in 2013 and achieved 100% EDM coverage before the end of 2023. This increased transparency will help regulators hold water companies to account to reduce storm overflow discharges and will support public understanding of water quality. The Bathing Water Regulations require the Environment Agency to sample bathing waters at a fixed location using a pre-determined sampling schedule during the bathing season, which is fixed in the Bathing Water Regulations as 15 May to 30 September. The government is committed to reviewing the Bathing Water Regulations 2013 to ensure they reflect changes in how and where people use bathing waters.


Written Question
Marine Protected Areas: Fishing Gear
Monday 22nd January 2024

Asked by: Selaine Saxby (Conservative - North Devon)

Question to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs:

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, if he will make it his policy to ban the use of bottom-towed fishing gear in marine protected areas on a whole-site basis.

Answered by Mark Spencer - Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)

Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) are a devolved competency and the information provided therefore relates to England only.

Each MPA protects specific features, whether that is a particular species or a variety of different habitats. Byelaws to protect MPAs from damaging fishing activity are developed using an evidence-led process to determine what measures are required to protect these specific features. Site by site assessments are carried out to tailor management measures and to avoid unnecessary restrictions on fishing. Only fishing activities which could damage the protected features of an MPA require management.

Nearly 60% of the 181 English MPAs are already protected from damaging fishing activity. This includes byelaws made in 2022, which ban bottom towed gear over sensitive features in the first four offshore sites. The Marine Management Organisation consulted in 2023 on similar proposals for a further 13 sites; a decision on this will be taken shortly. We have also recently designated three Highly Protected Marine Areas. These sites have the highest level of protection in English waters and take a whole-site approach.


Written Question
Barbecues and Sky Lanterns
Tuesday 12th December 2023

Asked by: Selaine Saxby (Conservative - North Devon)

Question to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs:

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, when his Department plans to publish the research study into single use sky lanterns, disposable barbecues and helium balloons that concluded in March 2023.

Answered by Robbie Moore - Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)

Defra commissioned Eunomia in September 2022 to assess the environmental impacts of single use barbecues, sky lanterns and helium balloons. The research concluded earlier this year and we are hoping to publish the report soon.


Written Question
Packaging: Recycling
Tuesday 13th June 2023

Asked by: Selaine Saxby (Conservative - North Devon)

Question to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs:

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, pursuant to the Answer of 5 June to Question 186951 on Packaging: Recycling, how her Department plans to define the life of packaging.

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

The Department has no plans currently to define the life of packaging.


Written Question
Fires: Temperature
Monday 12th June 2023

Asked by: Selaine Saxby (Conservative - North Devon)

Question to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs:

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, with reference to the potential for an extremely hot and dry summer season in 2023, what steps her Department is taking to reduce the risk of wildfires; and when the findings of her Department’s research into the fire and environmental risks of sky lanterns and disposable BBQs will be published.

Answered by Trudy Harrison

The Government has a key role to play in making our natural landscapes resilient to the risks posed by wildfire.

We are working with Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, National Park Authorities and other Government departments to promote a series of guidance videos to educate users about travelling to and spending time outdoors safely in the wider countryside. This includes an updated Countryside Code which advises not to have barbecues or fires.

In 2021 we supported the development of a new accredited training programme, designed to consolidate knowledge, skills and understanding of vegetation fires including wildfire incidents. Within the first two years more than 800 prevention and response modules have been completed by public and private land managers.

The Government has committed further funding for the next two years and we continue to work closely with a range of stakeholders including land managers, the Forestry Commission, NFU, ENGOs and the National Fire Chiefs Council to embed this training across England, and to identify and respond to further training requirements.

Research into the environmental impacts of single use barbecues and sky lanterns concluded in March. We are currently considering next steps which we aim to finalise soon.


Written Question
Packaging: Recycling
Monday 5th June 2023

Asked by: Selaine Saxby (Conservative - North Devon)

Question to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs:

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps her Department plans to take to incentivise the reuse of packaging.

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

Under the current packaging producer responsibility regime businesses that use reusable packaging are required to meet recycling obligations the first time this packaging is placed on the market.

Where the packaging has a life of at least four years, the business may discharge its obligation in relation to that packaging in four equal instalments over four years commencing in the year in which that packaging is first used. This will also apply under the new extended packaging producer regime.

In addition businesses using reusable household packaging will only be required to pay disposal cost fees the first time the packaging is used. In the Government Response to the consultation on extended producer responsibility published in March 2022 we stated we would consider other measures to encourage the use of reusable packaging with the intention of introducing these in 2025.