Agriculture and environment

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Content published before December 2016

This page highlights some of the current parliamentary material available on agriculture and the environment. This includes select committee reports, briefing papers on current legislation and other subjects produced by the parliamentary research services, and the latest Early Day Motions put down by MPs.

Commons Briefing Papers

DateDescription
27.10.2016Grouse shooting
Grouse shooting takes place on moorlands managed for the birds. The Government believes that grouse shooting makes a significant economic, social and environmental contribution. However, others are concerned that grouse moor management is leading to environmental damage and the illegal killing of birds of prey. Two public petitions have been launched on this matter, on both sides of the argument. The Petitions Committee took evidence from witnesses on 18 October 2016, and a debate is scheduled for 31 October 2016.
31.08.2016Badgers: Culls in England
The UK Government is committed to eradicating bovine TB and takes the view that badger culling in areas with high incidence of TB in cattle in England is an effective part of this strategy. Controlled shooting of badgers was trialed in Gloucestershire and Somerset in 2013 and 2014. In 2015, a badger cull continued in these two areas and was extended to a third area in Dorset. The Government has announced that badger control will take place over a wider number of areas in England in 2016. However, badger culling as a means of controlling TB in cattle remains a contentious policy.
30.08.2016Food Waste: key facts, policy and trends in the UK
A House of Commons Library Briefing including some key food waste facts and trends; an explanation of the impacts of food waste; food waste policy and legislation; information on the UK voluntary initiatives in place to tackle food waste; and a summary of proposals for change.
09.05.2016Fly-tipping - the illegal dumping of waste
This Commons Library briefing paper gives a general overview of the extent of the problem of fly-tipping and the powers and responsibilities of the Environment Agency, local authorities and landowners to deal with it. In 2013/14 there was a significant increase in reported cases of fly-tipping across England and incidents increased again in 2014/15.
16.12.2015Solar farms: funding, planning and impacts
This Commons Library Briefing paper sets out recent policy updates and issues related to funding, the planning process and agricultural issues for solar farm developments.
27.11.2015Water Framework Directive: achieving good status of water bodies
This Commons Library Briefing Paper examines the requirements of the Water Framework Directive, including the requirement that the UK achieves 'good' status of all water bodies by 2015. It sets out some facts and figures for England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, explains how water quality is measured and discusses what happens if the requirements are not met. The actions being taken by the Government to manage and improve water quality are also explained and a brief explanation of the offence of water pollution is included.
13.05.2015Bovine Tuberculosis Statistics: Great Britain
In 2014 there were 4,700 new herd incidents of bovine tuberculosis (TB) in Great Britain, and 4.2% of tests on TB-free herds led to TB-free status being withdrawn. This note presents statistics measuring the incidence of bovine TB in Great Britain.
18.12.2014Septic tanks: new regulations
This note explains the legislation relating to septic tanks in England.
01.12.2014The Forestry Commission and the sale of public forests in England
This note sets out information on the sale of public forests managed by the Forestry Commission
17.11.2014Flood defence spending in England
A House of Commons Library Paper on Flood defence spending in England as at 2014.

POSTnotes

DateDescription
07.08.2015Herbicide Resistance
Increasing resistance to herbicides, coupled with a lack of new types of herbicides, has the potential to reduce crop yields. The UK Government's commitment to increase yields over the next 25 years will require the development of alternative crop protection methods. This POSTnote outlines the challenges of herbicide resistance and reviews the possible approaches to long-term weed control strategies.
12.06.2015Novel Food Production
Food production systems worldwide may have to adapt radically to meet the rising global demand for food. Emerging approaches in the food sector include controlled-environment farming, alternative animal feeds, edible insects, and lab-cultured meat. This POSTnote considers these new technologies and summarises their respective advantages and limitations.
04.11.2014GM Insects and Disease Control
Insects play a critical role in ecosystems, but can also cause economic and social harm by transmitting diseases to humans and livestock, and damaging crops. Genetically modified (GM) insects could be used alongside other approaches to mitigate harms. This POSTnote summarises possible benefits, risks and uncertainties associated with their deployment.
30.10.2014GM Crops and Regulation
This note summarises the evidence on environmental and health impacts of GM crops, describes recent technological developments and examines their likely consequences for proposed reforms of GM regulation
15.10.2014Diffuse Pollution of Water by Agriculture
Water pollution regulation is devolved in the UK. Surface, coastal and ground waters in England suffer from significant pollution problems: 78% of surface and groundwater bodies fail to meet the 'good' ecological status prescribed by the EU Water Frameworks Directive. Pollution increases water treatment costs and adversely affects wildlife. Compared to treatment, preventing water pollution at source can have a cost-benefit ratio as high as 1:65. This POSTnote describes the contribution of agriculture to water pollution, and measures that can be taken to reduce it.
22.08.2014Phosphate Resources
World food security is dependent on phosphate fertilisers manufactured from finite deposits of phosphate ore. The majority of remaining reserves are restricted to a limited number of countries raising geopolitical risks. This POSTnote describes the uses of phosphate and summarises ways in which dependence on mineral reserves could be reduced.

Early Day Motions

DateDescription
17.01.2012PESTICIDE USE AND POLLINATOR POPULATIONS
That this House notes the publication of the scientific paper Multiple routes of pesticide exposure for honey bees living near agricultural fields, reporting the recent findings of ...
04.05.2011FUTURE OF ALLOTMENTS
That this House welcomes the strong support for allotments made by the Prime Minister during Prime Minister's Questions on 4 May 2011; acknowledges with approval his endorsement of ...
27.04.2011PROVISION OF ALLOTMENTS
That this House notes that under the Small Holdings and Allotments Act 1908, a local authority has a statutory duty to provide a sufficient number of allotment plots to meet demand; ...
31.03.2011NEONICOTINOID PESTICIDES AND POLLINATING INSECTS
That this House welcomes the decision of Professor Robert Watson, Chief Scientific Advisor at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, to initiatea review of all the ...
16.09.2010GENETICALLY MODIFIED ORGANISMS
That this House is concerned that the European Commission has so far not implemented measures called for by the EU Council in 2008 to improve genetically modified organisms (GMO) risk ...

Glossary

  • Commons Briefing Papers (CBP) Papers providing in-depth and impartial analysis on every major piece of primary legislation and on other topics of public and parliamentary concern. Regular statistics papers are also published.
  • Early Day Motions (EDMs) - formal motions submitted by MPs in the House of Commons
  • POSTnotes (POST PN) - proactive four-page policy briefings from the Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology based on reviews of the research literature, interviews with stakeholders and peer review, commissioned by the POST Board
  • Lords Library Notes (LLN) - authored publications by the research section of the House of Lords Library that provide analysis of Bills, subjects for debate in the House and other issues of interest to Members.
  • Select Committee Reports - papers produced by all select committees of both Houses