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Do rural communities have a voice in government? Lords to question Defra

In its first evidence session, The Select Committee on the Natural Environment and Rural Communities Act 2006 will tomorrow take evidence from Defra and Natural England.

Defra is the UK government department responsible for safeguarding the natural environment and sustaining a thriving rural community. The Committee will consider whether or not Defra is providing the ‘rural voice' which these communities need and if policies from the NERC 2006 Act have been implemented satisfactorily.

The Committee will also consider how well Natural England is performing its function of ensuring “that the natural environment is conserved, enhanced and managed”. The evidence session is an opportunity to ask representatives of Defra and Natural England whether they are able to be effective in delivering policies from the 2006 Act.

At 11:05am the Committee will hear evidence from:

  • Alan Law, Chief Officer for Strategy and Reform, Natural England
  • Shirley Trundle CBE, Director, Natural Environment Policy, Defra

Questions they are likely to be asked include:

  • Is it part of Defra's role to champion the needs of rural communities within government when dealing with other departments?
  • What is Defra doing to ensure that policies across government are rural-proofed?
  • How does Natural England seek to balance its obligations to the environment while at the same time promoting economic growth?
  • Is there anything Natural England would like to do more of that it cannot do at present due to a lack of resources or powers?
  • How does the biodiversity duty contained in the 2006 Act compare to similar duties on public bodies in Wales and Scotland in terms of impact?

The evidence session will take place at 11:05am , Tuesday 18 July 2017 in Committee Room 1 of the House of Lords.

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