Written questions and answers

Written questions allow Members of Parliament to ask government ministers for information on the work, policy and activities of government departments.

Historical written answers can be found in Hansard.

Find the latest written questions and answers for the 2019-21 session below. We welcome your feedback on this service.

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Q
Asked by Lord Patten
Asked on: 14 May 2020
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Hedges and Ditches
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the impact on (1) the environment, and (2) road safety, of the cutting of roadside verges and hedges in English local authority areas since 2015; and whether they have plans for a review of these practices.
Answered on: 01 June 2020

Our roadside verges and hedges can provide a rich refuge for plants and for the pollinators and other wildlife they support. The responsibility for managing England’s strategic road network falls to Highways England and the local road network to local authorities.

All public bodies, including Highways England and local authorities, have a legal duty under the 2006 Natural Environment and Rural Communities Act to have regard to conserving biodiversity when exercising their functions. Management of road verges, hedgerows and other green spaces to support wildflowers, pollinators and other wildlife is one way in which public bodies can discharge this duty, although those public bodies also have to ensure public safety.

The UK Roads Liaison Group’s Code of Practice on Well Managed Highway Infrastructure recommends that authorities manage highway verges, trees and landscaped areas with regard to their nature conservation value and biodiversity principles as well as whole-life costing, highway safety and serviceability.

Many public bodies are already taking action to enhance biodiversity along public roads. Highways England’s Biodiversity Action Plan sets out its approach to promoting biodiversity while balancing this with safety on the strategic road network. A number of local authorities are also working with conservation groups such as the local Wildlife Trust to plan and implement biodiversity enhancements alongside roads.

Defra, alongside our external partners and other Government departments, regularly reviews the evidence on the value to wildlife of roadside verges and hedges, and strongly encourages positive management that balances wildlife and safety.

Asked on: 14 May 2020
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
International Council for the Exploration of the Sea
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to clarify their relationship with the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea; and when they expect to conclude the agreements that are necessary before 31 December.
Answered on: 28 May 2020

The UK has agreed in principle a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES). This will ensure the advice we require is in place so that the UK can continue to meet its international and domestic commitments and obligations on sustainability. The MoU will be signed by December 2020, entering into force on 1 January 2021.

The UK has been a member of ICES since its inception in 1902 and we intend to continue playing a strong role in it in the future. UK scientists make a significant contribution to the science that generates ICES’s advice, including annual recommendations for total allowable catches, and they will continue to provide their scientific expertise. The UK will continue to provide strong support for ICES’s scientific activities in 2020 and beyond.

Q
Asked by Lord Greaves
Asked on: 06 May 2020
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Recycling
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of (1) the impact of the temporary closure of recycling companies on waste disposal authorities, and (2) the ability of those authorities to store or otherwise dispose of or deal with the recyclates collected or received from waste collection authorities.
Answered on: 21 May 2020

Recycling companies rely on Household Waste and Recycling Centres (HWRCs) to provide them with some of the materials which can then be used to make new products. Defra officials have been working closely with local authorities and the waste sector to keep HWRCs open. There is no reason in law why HWRCs cannot be open and where possible, local authorities should seek to retain access to HWRC services for their residents to dispose of waste. The Government is not setting a date by which HWRCs should be open. We recognise that the opening of HWRCs will depend on local circumstances and resource availability. A “one size fits all” approach is not appropriate. The decision to open a HWRC remains with the relevant local authority. Our most recent guidance can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-advice-to-local-authorities-on-prioritising-waste-collections/managing-household-waste-and-recycling-centres-hwrcs-in-england-during-the-coronavirus-covid-19-pandemic

Indications are that most local authorities have been able to maintain collection services for packaging and food waste and continue to send materials to be recycled. Material recovery facilities which receive, separate and prepare recyclable materials for reprocessing and recycling companies, have been operating whilst maintaining social distancing measures. The impacts of COVID-19 and related restrictions on these facilities and the recycling sector are being closely monitored by Defra. In addition, the Charted Institute for Waste Management (CIWM) has worked with Waste & Resources Action Programme (WRAP), local authority bodies and commercial waste collectors to establish the WasteSupport platform to assist local authorities to access additional capacity in the commercial waste collection sector for processing waste.

For some materials (including waste electrical equipment, furniture , and textiles) there are particular challenges and Defra is in regular discussions with these sectors, including the reuse/repair and reprocessing organisations, about these.

The Environment Agency has published time-limited Regulatory Position Statements (RPSs) to allow some flexibility for local authorities and other operators where, for reasons beyond their control, compliance with certain regulatory requirements may not be possible due to COVID-19. These include the ability to store more material at a permitted site than the permit usually allows. Each COVID-19 RPS sets out when it can be applied and conditions that will need to comply with, to ensure that the risks to the environment and human health are minimised. More details can be found at the following link: https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/covid-19-regulatory-position-statements.

Defra has published guidance on prioritisation of waste services and on management of HWRCs during the current pandemic and continues to monitor the situation with local authorities and industry bodies.

Asked on: 12 May 2020
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Environment Protection: British Overseas Territories
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government when the results of the Darwin Plus projects whose initial applications were submitted between May and July 2019 will be announced; and whether the allocation of the funds to projects will be in line with the results of the consultation on ‘Safeguarding the environment in British Overseas Territories’ which concluded on 26 July 2019.
Answered on: 21 May 2020

The successful projects for the recent round of Darwin Plus will be announced shortly.

I was encouraged that we received a strong response to the Call for Evidence on ‘Safeguarding the environment in British Overseas Territories', with 51 responses received from the Overseas Territories, NGOs and other interested parties. This was an important evidence gathering-exercise designed to inform the Government’s preparations for the next spending review. The summary of responses was published on 31 March 2020, after the application and assessment of Darwin Plus applications was completed. The findings of the Call for Evidence will be used to inform future funding for environmental support in the Overseas Territories.

Q
Asked by Lord Patten
Asked on: 05 May 2020
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Roads: Fly-tipping
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of whether the amount of fly tipping on or near roads has increased during the last 12 months and, if so, by how much.
Answered on: 20 May 2020

The Government publishes annual fly-tipping statistics for England around November for the preceding financial year. As such, the Government has not yet been able to assess whether the amount of fly-tipping on or near roads has increased during the last 12 months.

The most recently published statistics indicated that, as with previous years, the most common place for fly-tipping to occur was on highways (pavements and roads), which accounted for 46% of total incidents in 2018/19. This is an increase of 6% from 2017/18. The fly-tipping statistics are available at:

https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/fly-tipping-in-england

Asked on: 05 May 2020
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Animal Welfare and Zoos: Coronavirus
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what support they are providing to (1) zoos, and (2) animal welfare organisations, to enable animals to continue to be looked after throughout the COVID-19 pandemic; and whether furloughed staff from these organisations are still able to provide support to animals on their premises.
Answered on: 20 May 2020

We recognise that zoos and other animal welfare organisations are undertaking very valuable work at this time to ensure that the health and welfare needs of the diverse range of animals they care for are well met.

The Government has provided a package of temporary, timely and targeted measures to support businesses, including zoos and other animal welfare organisations, through this period of disruption caused by COVID-19. They are eligible to apply for a range of support schemes including the Job Retention Scheme, VAT deferral, Business Rates Relief, the Business Interruption Loan schemes, the option to reclaim the costs of Statutory Sick Pay and grant funding of up to £25,000.

In addition, specifically for zoos in severe financial distress, the Government has introduced a Zoos Support Fund for licensed zoos in England. Similar support will be provided by the Devolved Administrations. Where a zoo in England is in severe financial distress and has fully explored and exhausted all other reasonable avenues to generate income and reduce costs, then they can apply for this fund. Defra has already written to all licensed zoos in England to make them aware of the COVID-19 support schemes available as well as the new Zoo Support Fund. More information can be found at https://www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-support-for-zoos-and-aquariums

We are in discussion with the animal welfare sector about the issue of support for the organisations working with companion animals and to understand the severe impacts on the sector and their needs.

Defra officials have also been engaging with some of the largest zoos to discuss additional concerns which are arising including over a longer time frame, and active consideration of these is ongoing.

Government guidance states that individuals who are furloughed can volunteer for any organisation that is not their employer.

Q
Asked by Lord Patten
Asked on: 30 April 2020
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Birds of Prey
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the (1) number, and (2) geographical spread within England, of (a) buzzards, and (b) red kites.
Answered on: 15 May 2020

A report published by the British Trust for Ornithology estimates that the number of breeding buzzards in Great Britain is 61,500 – 85,000 pairs and the number of breeding red kites is 4,370 pairs (https://www.bto.org/our-science/publications/peer-reviewed-papers/apep-4-population-estimates-birds-great-britain-and).

There is no similar data for English populations. However, buzzards are common throughout England and Natural England estimates that there are up to 30,000 breeding pairs. Natural England also estimate that there are 2,000 pairs of red kites which are most commonly found in central and southern England.

The most recent information on the geographical distribution of birds in Britain is provided by the BTO’s 2007-2011 Atlas of breeding and wintering birds https://app.bto.org/mapstore/StoreServlet.

Q
Asked by Lord Patten
Asked on: 05 May 2020
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Roads: Litter
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of whether the amount of littering from vehicles has increased during the last 12 months and, if so, by how much.
Answered on: 15 May 2020

The Government does not collect data on littering rates and has made no assessment of whether littering from vehicles has increased or decreased in the last 12 months.

Data on a range of indicators relating to litter in England is published annually on GOV.UK at:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/litter-and-littering-in-england-data-dashboard

The most recently-published data indicated that around 9 in 10 sites in England met the required standards of cleanliness in 2017-18. Data for 2018-19 will be published later this year.

Data from Keep Britain Tidy (KBT) shows that 94% of main roads, 89% of rural roads, and 93% of ‘other highways’ met the required standards of cleanliness in 2017-18, based on an independent survey of 7,200 sites across 25 local authorities. This is broadly comparable with their results from a similar survey for 2014-15, although differences in the survey sample and methodology prevent direct comparisons. The full 2017-18 report from KBT can be found online at: https://www.keepbritaintidy.org

From April 2018, we have increased the powers available to councils to tackle littering from vehicles by giving councils in England and outside London new powers to issue civil penalties to the keeper of vehicles from which litter is thrown. Similar power are already held by councils in London.

Q
Asked by Lord Patten
Asked on: 28 April 2020
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Peat
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what volume of peat and peat-based products were sold in each of the last five years; what volume of peat was extracted from the UK in each of the last five years; and what volume of peat was imported from the Republic of Ireland in each of the last five years.
Answered on: 13 May 2020

In 2015 2.1 million cubic metres of peat were sold in growing media products in the UK. Data was not collected for 2016 and 2017. Sales data for 2018 is currently being compiled and 2019 data will be collected later this year.

Of the peat sold in growing media products in 2015, 0.9 million cubic metres were extracted in the UK and 1.1 million cubic metres were extracted in the Republic of Ireland. The remaining 0.1 million cubic metres were extracted in other EU countries. This data comes from the same survey which gathered data for 2018 and 2019 and data will be available for subsequent years on this basis.

The forthcoming data will allow us to assess progress towards the phasing out of peat in both the retail and commercial horticulture markets. However, this data will not include some significant market changes this year with the introduction of new peat-free and products with significantly reduced peat content by major retailers and brands. Data from 2020 sales will be collected in 2021.

The Government is committed to phasing out the use of peat in horticulture in England by 2030. In 2011 we introduced a voluntary target for amateur gardeners to phase out the use of peat by 2020 and a final voluntary phase-out target of 2030 for professional growers of fruit, vegetables and plants. While some progress has been made, we stated in the 25 Year Environment Plan that we would consider implementing further measures if there is insufficient movement to peat alternatives by 2020. We will set out our plans around the use of peat in horticulture in due course.

Grouped Questions: HL3480
Q
Asked by Lord Patten
Asked on: 28 April 2020
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Peat
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of when all retail products sold in the UK will be peat-free.
Answered on: 13 May 2020

In 2015 2.1 million cubic metres of peat were sold in growing media products in the UK. Data was not collected for 2016 and 2017. Sales data for 2018 is currently being compiled and 2019 data will be collected later this year.

Of the peat sold in growing media products in 2015, 0.9 million cubic metres were extracted in the UK and 1.1 million cubic metres were extracted in the Republic of Ireland. The remaining 0.1 million cubic metres were extracted in other EU countries. This data comes from the same survey which gathered data for 2018 and 2019 and data will be available for subsequent years on this basis.

The forthcoming data will allow us to assess progress towards the phasing out of peat in both the retail and commercial horticulture markets. However, this data will not include some significant market changes this year with the introduction of new peat-free and products with significantly reduced peat content by major retailers and brands. Data from 2020 sales will be collected in 2021.

The Government is committed to phasing out the use of peat in horticulture in England by 2030. In 2011 we introduced a voluntary target for amateur gardeners to phase out the use of peat by 2020 and a final voluntary phase-out target of 2030 for professional growers of fruit, vegetables and plants. While some progress has been made, we stated in the 25 Year Environment Plan that we would consider implementing further measures if there is insufficient movement to peat alternatives by 2020. We will set out our plans around the use of peat in horticulture in due course.

Grouped Questions: HL3479
Q
Asked by Lord Patten
Asked on: 28 April 2020
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Horticulture: Peat
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of when commercial horticulture will have ceased using peat and peat-based products.
Answered on: 13 May 2020

In 2015 2.1 million cubic metres of peat were sold in growing media products in the UK. Data was not collected for 2016 and 2017. Sales data for 2018 is currently being compiled and 2019 data will be collected later this year.

Of the peat sold in growing media products in 2015, 0.9 million cubic metres were extracted in the UK and 1.1 million cubic metres were extracted in the Republic of Ireland. The remaining 0.1 million cubic metres were extracted in other EU countries. This data comes from the same survey which gathered data for 2018 and 2019 and data will be available for subsequent years on this basis.

The forthcoming data will allow us to assess progress towards the phasing out of peat in both the retail and commercial horticulture markets. However, this data will not include some significant market changes this year with the introduction of new peat-free and products with significantly reduced peat content by major retailers and brands. Data from 2020 sales will be collected in 2021.

The Government is committed to phasing out the use of peat in horticulture in England by 2030. In 2011 we introduced a voluntary target for amateur gardeners to phase out the use of peat by 2020 and a final voluntary phase-out target of 2030 for professional growers of fruit, vegetables and plants. While some progress has been made, we stated in the 25 Year Environment Plan that we would consider implementing further measures if there is insufficient movement to peat alternatives by 2020. We will set out our plans around the use of peat in horticulture in due course.

Q
Asked on: 28 April 2020
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Domestic Waste: Recycling
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have, if any, to allow local authorities to re-open household waste recycling centres.
Answered on: 13 May 2020

Government has not required local authorities to close household waste recycling centres (HWRCs). Local authorities are working hard to keep essential collections in place and there have been changes in services in some areas due reprioritisation of staff and social distancing concerns. We published non-statutory guidance on 5 May for local authorities on managing HWRCs in England during the coronavirus pandemic. It was developed in conjunction with Public Health England and the Home Office and sets out measures to support the operation of HWRCs in line with public health measures.

Asked on: 23 April 2020
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Fly-tipping: Coronavirus
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what consideration they have given to recommending the re-opening waste and recycling centres to alleviate the increased incidence of fly-tipping on agricultural land.
Answered on: 07 May 2020

This is a devolved matter and the information provided therefore relates to England only.

We are aware of reports of an increase in fly-tipping and that, anecdotally, this may be a result of the closure of household waste recycling centres. However, this does not appear to be consistent across the country.

It is legal for household waste and recycling centres (HWRCs) to remain open during the Coronavirus pandemic. However, we know that some local authorities are finding this challenging, which is why on 5 May Defra published some guidance to help local authorities do this.

We worked with industry, local authorities and other Government departments, including Public Health England, on developing the guidance which includes a section on workforce safety. The key principle of the guidance is that human health must be protected while maintaining safe systems of working. Social distancing must also be observed by both staff and visitors to HWRCs wherever possible. The guidance makes it clear that residents must only visit HWRCs if they cannot store safely at home the items they wish to dispose of.

The guidance was published this week after close consultation with the police. The guidance can be found at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-advice-to-local-authorities-on-prioritising-waste-collections/managing-household-waste-and-recycling-centres-hwrcs-in-england-during-the-coronavirus-covid-19-pandemic

Q
Asked by Lord Fox
Asked on: 23 April 2020
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Chemicals: Regulation
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what progress they have made in their consultation with UK businesses about the future regulation of chemicals in the UK once the participation with EU REACH ends; how many businesses they have consulted; which sectors those businesses are part of; and when they intend to publish the results of that consultation.
Answered on: 06 May 2020

UK regulators are well prepared to take on new responsibilities under UK REACH. We have already provided extra resources to both the Health and Safety Executive (HSE and the Environment Agency (EA) to prepare for UK REACH and we will continue to scale up their resources over the next two years. We have previously estimated the cost of operating UK REACH at £13 million a year at full operation. That figure includes the operation and maintenance of the Comply with UK REACH IT system and staff resourcing in Defra, HSE and the EA. We are keeping this estimate of resource requirements under regular review as planning for the end of the Transition Period continues.

We have put in place measures to enable industry to comply with UK REACH through a phased transitional period. Defra's estimates of the costs to industry broadly align with those identified by industry, and we continue to explore a range of further steps to minimise the burdens on businesses.

As part of that process we have been undertaking a focused evidence-gathering exercise to better understand costs and practical options to reduce burdens on industry. This involves a number of key stakeholders including businesses of different sizes across the supply chain, trade associations and NGOs. We are now considering how to respond to the conclusions of this work.

Grouped Questions: HL3382 | HL3383
Q
Asked by Lord Fox
Asked on: 23 April 2020
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Chemicals: Regulation
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what is their latest estimate of the cost to the private sector of the implementation of a new UK chemicals regulation system to replace EU REACH.
Answered on: 06 May 2020

UK regulators are well prepared to take on new responsibilities under UK REACH. We have already provided extra resources to both the Health and Safety Executive (HSE and the Environment Agency (EA) to prepare for UK REACH and we will continue to scale up their resources over the next two years. We have previously estimated the cost of operating UK REACH at £13 million a year at full operation. That figure includes the operation and maintenance of the Comply with UK REACH IT system and staff resourcing in Defra, HSE and the EA. We are keeping this estimate of resource requirements under regular review as planning for the end of the Transition Period continues.

We have put in place measures to enable industry to comply with UK REACH through a phased transitional period. Defra's estimates of the costs to industry broadly align with those identified by industry, and we continue to explore a range of further steps to minimise the burdens on businesses.

As part of that process we have been undertaking a focused evidence-gathering exercise to better understand costs and practical options to reduce burdens on industry. This involves a number of key stakeholders including businesses of different sizes across the supply chain, trade associations and NGOs. We are now considering how to respond to the conclusions of this work.

Grouped Questions: HL3381 | HL3383
Q
Asked by Lord Fox
Asked on: 23 April 2020
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Chemicals: Regulation
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the adequacy of the resources in place to implement the new UK chemicals regulation system replacing EU REACH; and what estimate they have made of the annual cost of that new system.
Answered on: 06 May 2020

UK regulators are well prepared to take on new responsibilities under UK REACH. We have already provided extra resources to both the Health and Safety Executive (HSE and the Environment Agency (EA) to prepare for UK REACH and we will continue to scale up their resources over the next two years. We have previously estimated the cost of operating UK REACH at £13 million a year at full operation. That figure includes the operation and maintenance of the Comply with UK REACH IT system and staff resourcing in Defra, HSE and the EA. We are keeping this estimate of resource requirements under regular review as planning for the end of the Transition Period continues.

We have put in place measures to enable industry to comply with UK REACH through a phased transitional period. Defra's estimates of the costs to industry broadly align with those identified by industry, and we continue to explore a range of further steps to minimise the burdens on businesses.

As part of that process we have been undertaking a focused evidence-gathering exercise to better understand costs and practical options to reduce burdens on industry. This involves a number of key stakeholders including businesses of different sizes across the supply chain, trade associations and NGOs. We are now considering how to respond to the conclusions of this work.

Grouped Questions: HL3381 | HL3382
Asked on: 21 April 2020
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Fly-tipping: Coronavirus
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the impact of municipal waste site closures on the prevalence of fly tipping; and what advice they provide to local councils about reducing the incidence of fly tipping.
Answered on: 05 May 2020

Fly-tipping is unacceptable and the Government is committed to tackling this crime.

We are aware of reports of an increase in fly-tipping and that, anecdotally, this may be a result of the decisions taken by local authorities to close household waste recycling centres. However, this does not appear to be consistent across the country. We have requested fly-tipping incident data through the National Fly-Tipping Prevention Group (NFTPG), chaired by Defra, which includes local authorities and other key stakeholders, to help us to monitor the situation.

We have published guidance to help local authorities prioritise waste services. This recommends keeping household waste recycling centres open if it is safe to do so and that the clearance of fly-tipped material should be given a high priority. The Government has been working with local authorities to explore ways in which household waste recycling centres that have been closed might be re-opened, whilst observing social distancing and other requirements. The Government published guidance on this on 5 May 2020.

Through the NFTPG, we have also disseminated messaging aimed at householders promoting the secure storage of waste, use of registered waste carriers and reiterating that waste must not be fly-tipped.

Q
Asked on: 21 April 2020
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Horticulture: Coronavirus
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government when they intend to respond to the letter from the Master of the Company of Gardeners to the Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, dated 9 April, about the difficulties experienced by the horticultural industry as a result of the COVID-19 regulations; and what consultation they have conducted into the case for reopening garden centres under conditions which could maintain social distancing.
Answered on: 05 May 2020

The Government are aware of the challenging position facing the horticulture industry during this period and are grateful for the letter from the Master of the Company of the Gardeners highlighting some of the issues faced by the sector. A response can be expected from the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs imminently.

The Government continues to assess the decision on garden centres, but concluded at the last review that it was too early to ease any restrictions on such retail environments. Social distancing requirements will continue to be considered in accordance with this review.

Stores can operate Click and Collect services as long as orders are taken online, by telephone or via post and customers remain outside of the store to collect their goods.

In this situation, as generally, businesses are advised to operate with strict adherence to the social distancing guidelines.

Asked on: 21 April 2020
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Air Pollution
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government how the £304 million announced in the 2020 Budget for local authorities to improve air quality will be allocated, and what time period the fund covers.
Answered on: 05 May 2020

The 2020 Budget allocated an additional £304 million to support delivery of the NO2 plan, bringing the total amount of funding committed to tackling NO2 to £880 million. This further funding covers the years 2020-2022 and will be used to support those local authorities identified in the NO2 plan to deliver and mitigate the impacts of measures to tackle exceedances of legal limits for NO2.

Q
Asked by Lord Bowness
Asked on: 21 April 2020
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Horticulture: Coronavirus
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have, if any, to allow garden centres and plant nurseries to open during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Answered on: 04 May 2020

The Government is aware of the challenging position facing garden centres and plant nurseries during this period.

Nurseries growing plants for sale to other retail outlets or online to the public are 'open' and accessible by staff for plant care and maintenance purposes. They are, however, like garden centres, closed to the public to aid the prevention of spread of COVID-19.

The Government is keeping the situation on Garden Centres under review, but concluded last week that it was too early to ease any restrictions on such retail environments. We will continue to work closely with representatives from the horticulture supply chain to understand what short-term and long-term support the sector as a whole needs. We are ready to respond to emerging issues quickly and effectively. Public health must be at the heart of the difficult decisions the Government is having to take at this time.

Asked on: 25 March 2020
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
New Zealand: Coronavirus
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to support UK citizens who are seeking to return to the UK from New Zealand who are affected by that country's lockdown due to COVID-19.
Answered on: 08 April 2020

The Foreign Secretary announced on 30 March a new partnership between the Government and airlines to fly home more stranded British travelers, where commercial routes do not exist. The Government will provide up to £75 million financial support to enable special charter flights to priority countries, operated by airlines including Virgin, Easyjet, Jet 2, Titan and British Airways. This service has already begun, with flights from Peru, Senegal, UAE, Ecuador, Bolivia, Ghana, Algeria and Tunisia as of 6th April.

The British Government is working around the clock to support British Nationals as we respond to this global pandemic. The British High Commission in Wellington has established an online registration system, allowing High Commission staff to track and directly communicate with British Nationals in need of assistance, in particular the most vulnerable. This includes regular updates through email and on social media platforms. There has been an extensive drawdown of commercial flights out of New Zealand to regional hubs, reducing significantly the options for British Nationals to depart New Zealand. We are engaging commercial airlines and international governments, encouraging them to keep commercial routes open, in particular in transit hubs.

Q
Asked on: 25 March 2020
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Animals: Markets
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what representations they plan to make to the United Nations to implement a global ban of so-called 'wet' markets.
Answered on: 06 April 2020

The UK is at the forefront of international efforts to regulate global trade in wild animals and my officials regularly raise the issue of the illegal wildlife trade with other governments and with international authorities. The World Animal Health Organisation, of which the UK is a member, will be addressing wildlife trade at the next general session in May 2020. Pandemics arise as a combination of events and are a global concern. The origin of the Covid-19 virus is not yet clear, although it has been linked to viruses occurring in animals.

Q
Asked by Lord Berkeley
Asked on: 18 March 2020
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Environment Protection
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have, if any, to establish a national environment day; and whether the Keep Britain Tidy campaign will be part of any such plans.
Answered on: 01 April 2020

The Government has no current plans to declare a National Environment Day. There are already a number of established initiatives that encourage care for the environment, including World Environment Day. Defra is working with Keep Britain Tidy to deliver the “Keep it, Bin it” campaign. We are also pleased to support their “Great British Spring Clean” campaign, which has now been rescheduled for the autumn.

The Government made a commitment through the 25 Year Environment Plan to be the first generation to leave the environment in a better state than we found it. 2019 was designated the Year of Green Action in support of the 25 Year Environment Plan goal to connect people with the environment to improve health and well-being.

Asked on: 16 March 2020
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Air Pollution
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government, following the Budget 2020’s commitment to provide £304 million to help local authorities improve air quality, what assessment they have made of the likely annual reduction in overall nitrogen dioxide emissions.
Answered on: 31 March 2020

Emissions of nitrogen oxides (NOx) reduced by 33% from 2010-18[1] and we are projecting a further 12% reduction in emissions between 2018 and 2020[2], ensuring that we comply with the 2020 NOx emissions target under the Gothenburg Protocol. We are currently working with local authorities with the worst air pollution concentrations to ensure that they take robust action to accelerate air quality improvement. The financial commitment awarded in the Budget will provide local authorities with the funds to take the necessary action and support individuals and businesses that are impacted by local air quality plans.

[1] https://naei.beis.gov.uk/resources/Annex_I_Emissions_reporting_2020_GB_v2.0.xls

[2] https://cdr.eionet.europa.eu/gb/un/clrtap/projected/envxmo40w/index_html

Asked on: 16 March 2020
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Tree Planting
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government following the Budget 2020's commitment to plant enough trees to cover an area the size of Birmingham over the next five years, how many trees they intend to plant in each financial year.
Answered on: 31 March 2020

The Budget announced a £640 million Nature for Climate Fund to increase tree planting in England. This will contribute to the UK-wide planting commitment of 30,000 hectares per year by 2025 set out in the Government’s manifesto. We are working with the devolved administrations to ensure we all deliver towards this UK commitment over this Parliament.

We have not set annual targets but are developing an ambitious programme to deliver the manifesto commitment. Working with key delivery partners and stakeholders, we are developing policies for a new English Tree Strategy, which we will consult on this spring.

Asked on: 16 March 2020
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Plastics: Recycling
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether, as part of their plans to introduce a new Plastic Packaging Tax from April 2022, they will also introduce consistent national guidelines for the recycling of such packaging.
Answered on: 31 March 2020

The Government is committed to increasing the amount of packaging collected for recycling. The Environment Bill, which is currently going through the Committee Stage in the House of Commons, includes legislation so that all collectors of waste must collect a core set of materials from households, businesses and other organisations such as schools. The core set of materials will be paper and card, plastic, metal, glass, food and garden waste. The core set will have to be collected separately from residual waste and the dry recyclable materials must not be mixed with food and garden waste. We will consult on the detail of the policy later this year. As stated in the Resources and Waste Strategy, we expect consistency in recycling to be in force from 2023.

Asked on: 16 March 2020
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Flood Control
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak on their ability to deliver urgent repairs and upgrades to flood defences.
Answered on: 31 March 2020

Following this winter’s flooding the Environment Agency (EA) is completing inspections of impacted assets and prioritising repairs to those assets that are below required condition. The COVID-19 outbreak may impact the EA’s ability to deliver the asset repair programme as quickly as planned, but it will continue to prioritise the repair of assets that pose the most significant risk to lives and livelihoods.

Q
Asked on: 16 March 2020
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Chemicals: Regulation
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether the new system for regulating chemicals which requires technical information to be submitted by businesses to the Health and Safety Executive within two years of the end of the implementation period will be used to improve environmental standards.
Answered on: 31 March 2020

After the transition period, we will maintain an effective regulatory system for the management and control of chemicals which safeguards human health and the environment and can respond to emerging risks. One of the chemicals regulation regimes, UK REACH, will require submission of information by industry within two years to demonstrate their understanding of the risks and safe management of a given substance.

This information is required to operate an effective regulatory regime, to understand the hazards and risks of chemicals markets and to ensure their safe use. It will inform the assessment of the risks specific substances pose to human health and the environment and therefore any additional steps that are necessary to mitigate these risks such as identifying Substances of Very High Concern.

Q
Asked on: 18 March 2020
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Air Pollution: Death
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government how many people they estimate have died from illnesses resulting from poor air quality or air pollution; and whether either (1) a monthly, or (2) a quarterly, breakdown of those figures is available for each such year.
Answered on: 31 March 2020

The Committee on the Medical Effects of Air Pollutants estimates that the mortality burden of the air pollution mixture (based on both PM2.5 and NO2) in the UK is equivalent to 28,000 to 36,000 deaths per year. Mortality burden is a statistical way of assessing the impact of diseases and pollution. The equivalent figures at a monthly or quarterly period are not available.

Public Health England has, however, estimated the fraction of adult mortality attributable to long-term exposure to particulate air pollution at local authority level in the Public Health Outcomes Framework. This is available to view and search online at: https://fingertips.phe.org.uk/profile/public-health-outcomes-framework.

Q
Asked by Lord Mawson
Asked on: 23 March 2020
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Commonwealth: Wildlife
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what educational programmes they are supporting in Commonwealth countries to inform local people of any relationship between COVID-19 and other diseases and the trade in wildlife for food; and what steps they are taking to discourage such trade.
Answered on: 31 March 2020

The UK recognises that strong health systems are vital to ensuring health security and we support the Commonwealth's ambition to move towards achieving Universal Health Coverage, enabling countries to prevent, detect and respond to global outbreaks like Coronavirus. The origin of the Covid-19 virus is not yet clear, although it has been linked to viruses occurring in animals. The UK is at the forefront of international efforts to regulate global trade in wild animals and my officials regularly raise our concerns with other governments and with international authorities. The Commonwealth secretariat has launched a Commonwealth Coronavirus Response Centre that aims to provide a wealth of information on COVID-19 and educational resources for Commonwealth countries. Separately, the UK has announced £210 million further funding to the international coalition to find a vaccine, bringing the total amount of UK aid spent to fight COVID-19 to £544 million.

The UK is at the forefront of international efforts to raise awareness and promote action to tackle the Illegal Wildlife Trade (IWT). We have continued to address IWT through bilateral discussions and in multilateral partners. Through this work we were able to successfully work with international partners to help secure strong IWT Resolution at last year's United Nations General Assembly. The UK has also announced a £220 million international biodiversity fund to protect and enhance global biodiversity, £30 million of which will go to tackle IWT.

Q
Asked by Lord Hayward
Asked on: 12 March 2020
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Plastic Bags: Fees and Charges
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answers by Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park on 6 March (HL1745 and HL1746), whether they intend to publish the revised impact assessment agreed by the Regulatory Policy Committee; if so, when; and what plans they have to identify the differences between that assessment and their initial assessment.
Answered on: 26 March 2020

The Government will publish the revised impact assessment, which has been assessed as fit for purpose by the Regulatory Policy Committee, alongside the summary of the responses to the consultation and the Government response setting out next steps.

Asked on: 16 March 2020
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Pesticides
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what consideration they are giving to changing (1) UK pesticide standards, in particular maximum residue levels, and (2) the UK's approach to authorising pesticides, in order to achieve future trade agreements.
Answered on: 25 March 2020

The UK is proud of its world-leading food, health and animal welfare standards. We will not compromise on our standards nor put the UK’s biosecurity at risk as we negotiate new trade deals. Any trade agreements must respect the regulatory autonomy of both parties. Now that we have left the EU, the UK will operate an autonomous Sanitary and Phytosanitary regime, which covers the regulation of pesticides, to uphold our existing high standards.

The UK Government and devolved administrations have assured stakeholders that we will maintain current standards of environmental and health protection. Our EU exit legislation has carried across unchanged all of the statutory requirements of the EU regime relating to standards of protection, maximum residue level and approval of active substances. We will continue to ensure that decisions on the use of pesticides are based on careful scientific assessment of the risks, with the aim of achieving a high level of protection for people and the environment.

We will continue to draw on the considerable scientific and technical expertise of the Health and Safety Executive which will continue to operate as our expert national regulator on behalf of the UK Government and the devolved administrations. This puts the UK in a strong position in terms of having the necessary capacity and expertise to be able to take its own independent decisions after the transition period. There is a comprehensive Government programme of monitoring of pesticide residues in food, including imports, to determine whether food available to UK consumers complies with the statutory residue levels and is safe. The results of this monitoring are published following consideration by the Defra Expert Committee on Pesticide Residues in Food. We will not compromise on these standards in our trade negotiations.

Asked on: 09 March 2020
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Asbestos
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they intend to (1) maintain the total prohibition on the use of asbestos, and (2) rule out any instance of permitting products containing up to one per cent of asbestos as per regulations in the United States, after December 2020.
Answered on: 24 March 2020

At the end of the transition period, the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018 (as amended by the European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Act 2020) will convert the Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation & restriction of Chemicals (REACH) Regulation into domestic law. All existing EU REACH restrictions will be carried over to UK REACH at that point, including those relating to asbestos.

The Government has no plans to revise these restrictions or alter the way asbestos is regulated in the UK.

Asked on: 09 March 2020
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Timber
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to reduce the amount of timber imported annually; and what plans they have to enable England to become a net exporter of timber.
Answered on: 19 March 2020

This spring we will consult on an English Tree Strategy, including measures to support our domestic timber industry.

We are working to understand the scope for increasing UK-sourced timber in buildings, and our commitment to increase tree planting will increase the supply of domestically grown timber, reducing current reliance on imports.

Increasing the use of domestically grown timber in construction is a goal of the Clean Growth Strategy and 25 Year Plan for the Environment. This can lock up carbon in the long term and create a market for domestic timber.

Q
Asked on: 04 March 2020
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Dogs: Meat
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what urgent steps they intend to take explicitly to ban the slaughter of dogs for human consumption in the UK.
Answered on: 18 March 2020

I can assure you that the Government shares the public’s high regard for animal welfare, including the welfare of dogs, and we are committed to making the UK a world leader in protection of animals as we leave the EU. The Government has made wide ranging commitments on animal welfare.

The Government is appalled by the prospect of dogs being consumed. However, it is already illegal to sell dog meat for human consumption and the Government has seen no evidence that dog meat is being sold or consumed in this country. We are confident that the current position in this country sends a clear message that the slaughter and consumption of dogs will never be acceptable.

Q
Asked by Lord Greaves
Asked on: 04 March 2020
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Floods: Earby
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the most recent flooding in Earby; and whether the proposed further flood mitigation work there will take place in time to take advantage of any EU funding that has been agreed.
Answered on: 18 March 2020

The Government recognises the impact the recent flooding incidents have had on communities and sympathises with those affected.

The Earby Flood Alleviation Scheme is split into Phase 2 and Phase 3. Phase 2 of the scheme is currently at the Outline Business Case stage and qualifies for £1.03 million in Flood Defence Grant in Aid. The project has sourced the following partnership funding: £635,000 of European Structural Investment Fund; and £15,000 from Pendle Borough Council. The project team are working with Pendle Borough Council to look for options to address the funding gap to allow the project to progress.

Asked on: 09 March 2020
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Forests
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the ability of landowners and foresters to be able to plant and grow strands of commercial broadleaved trees which may be affected by pests and diseases.
Answered on: 18 March 2020

The latest Woodland Natural Capital Accounts were published by the Office for National Statistics in February 2020. These classify 85% of woodlands in Great Britain as in a favourable condition for tree health. They also provide information on the number of sites and felling areas under Statutory Plant Health Notices.

The UK Plant Health Risk Register contains the details of over 1,000 plant pests and pathogens which have been assessed for their potential to be damaging to the UK. 350 of these are forest pests, 17 of which are considered high priority and are tracked in an annual corporate performance indicator published by the Forestry Commission.

Deer, grey squirrels and rabbits can also prevent trees and woodlands establishing and realising their full potential.

This information is used by the Forestry Commission to assess applications for new woodlands (for timber production and other purposes). Landowners who do not include a mixture of tree species, suited to site conditions, adequately protected and resilient to known pests and disease threats, will not receive grant aid for woodland creation. In England, grants are available to help owners restock woodlands after felling due to a tree health issue, including where disease has killed ash, a broadleaf species planted for timber production in the past. The Government also works in partnership with others to reduce the negative impacts of squirrels and deer on trees.

Asked on: 04 March 2020
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Norfolk Island
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon on 18 February (HL1480), whether an Act of Parliament established Norfolk Island as a Territory of the Commonwealth of Australia; and if not, (1) how it was established as such a territory, and (2) how Parliament was consulted.
Answered on: 17 March 2020

In 1914 Norfolk Island became a Territory under the authority of the Commonwealth of Australia by way of a (UK) Order in Council and the (Australian) Norfolk Island Act of 1913 (enacted by the Australian Parliament).

Asked on: 04 March 2020
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Air Pollution
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to reduce air pollution.
Answered on: 17 March 2020

Our Clean Air Strategy (CAS) sets out an ambitious programme of action to reduce air pollutant emissions from a wide range of sources. The World Health Organization has recognised the CAS as an example for the rest of the world to follow.

The Environment Bill, which was introduced to Parliament on 30 January, delivers a number of key elements of the strategy including making a clear commitment to set a legally binding target to reduce fine particulate matter. In addition, on 21 February, we published our response to the Government’s consultation on cleaner domestic burning of solid fuels which sets out our intent to phase out the sale of bituminous (house) coal and smaller quantities of wet wood.

We have also put in place a £3.5 billion plan to tackle roadside nitrogen dioxide concentrations.

Q
Asked by Lord Truscott
Asked on: 04 March 2020
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Climate Change
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of whether the Gulf Stream is slowing; and whether any such slowing is having an effect on (1) the UK's climate, and (2) any increase in extreme weather events, including flooding.
Answered on: 17 March 2020

The Gulf Stream is a small part of a large, global-scale ocean ‘conveyor belt’ of circulation, driven by winds and by differences in temperature and salinity, known as the ‘Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation’ (AMOC). The AMOC has been measured since 2004 by an international observation system called RAPID, in which the UK plays a leading role. These measurements have shown a slowing over the last decade, however much of this may be from natural variability.

A recent assessment by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), published in the Special Report on Oceans and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate, found some evidence to indicate the AMOC has already weakened relative to the pre-industrial period (1850 – 1900), and finds it very likely that the AMOC will continue weakening over the rest of the 21st Century.

A large slowing of the AMOC would be expected to cause more winter storms over northern Europe, a decrease in marine biological productivity in the North Atlantic and changes in sea level. These effects would be superimposed on the effects of climate warming due to greenhouse gases, and they are included in the climate model projections used by the IPCC. At this stage we do not have evidence that the observed weakening of the AMOC has had a detectable impact on the UK climate.

The second Climate Change Risk Assessment (CCRA) published in 2017 identifies risks to flooding and coastal change as one of the UK’s top six risks from climate change. The second National Adaptation Programme (NAP) published in 2018, sets out a plan of actions across Government to address these risks (amongst others identified in the CCRA) over the following 5 years. In addition, updated UK Climate Projections (UKCP18) are a key tool to help the Government, businesses and the public understand the future climate and enable them to make climate-resilient decisions.

Asked on: 02 March 2020
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Noise: Pollution
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of (1) the case for gathering information on noise complaints in England, and (2) the health impacts of noise in England.
Answered on: 16 March 2020

The Chartered Institute of Environmental Health surveys local authorities to monitor and track changes in the amount of noise complaints received under statutory nuisance legislation. Their most recent survey report is available at https://www.cieh.org/policy/campaigns/noise-survey/, and includes some data on types of noise complaints. Given the existence of these surveys, the Government has not made a recent assessment of the case for gathering data on noise complaints. The data from these surveys feeds into Public Health England’s Public Health Outcomes Framework, published on GOV.UK, which includes three indicators related to the health impacts of noise in England. These are: the rate of complaints about noise; the percentage of the population exposed to high levels of road, rail and air transport noise during the daytime; and the percentage of the population exposed to high levels of road, rail and air transport noise during the night-time. More information and data, including trends, is available at https://fingertips.phe.org.uk/profile/public-health-outcomes-framework.

The Government estimates that the annual social cost of urban road noise in England is in the region of £7 to 10 billion. In 2019 we convened the Interdepartmental Group on Costs and Benefits (Noise Subject Group) to assess the latest evidence for valuing noise impacts in England, including impacts on health. This expert Group has commissioned evidence reviews relating to potential health outcomes from exposure to noise from a range of sources, and the outputs of these reviews will be taken into account in considering whether any updates to relevant Government guidance are required.

Reports published to date can be found at the following sites: http://randd.defra.gov.uk/Default.aspx?Menu=Menu&Module=More&Location=None&ProjectID=20395&FromSearch=Y&Publisher=1&SearchText=cardiovascular&SortString=ProjectCode&SortOrder=Asc&Paging=10#Description; and http://sciencesearch.defra.gov.uk/Default.aspx?Menu=Menu&Module=More&Location=None&ProjectID=20398&FromSearch=Y&Publisher=1&SearchText=specific%20health&SortString=ProjectCode&SortOrder=Asc&Paging=10#Description.

Grouped Questions: HL2033 | HL2034
Asked on: 02 March 2020
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Noise: Pollution
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what estimate they have made of the number noise complaints received by local authorities in England in each year since 2015.
Answered on: 16 March 2020

The Chartered Institute of Environmental Health surveys local authorities to monitor and track changes in the amount of noise complaints received under statutory nuisance legislation. Their most recent survey report is available at https://www.cieh.org/policy/campaigns/noise-survey/, and includes some data on types of noise complaints. Given the existence of these surveys, the Government has not made a recent assessment of the case for gathering data on noise complaints. The data from these surveys feeds into Public Health England’s Public Health Outcomes Framework, published on GOV.UK, which includes three indicators related to the health impacts of noise in England. These are: the rate of complaints about noise; the percentage of the population exposed to high levels of road, rail and air transport noise during the daytime; and the percentage of the population exposed to high levels of road, rail and air transport noise during the night-time. More information and data, including trends, is available at https://fingertips.phe.org.uk/profile/public-health-outcomes-framework.

The Government estimates that the annual social cost of urban road noise in England is in the region of £7 to 10 billion. In 2019 we convened the Interdepartmental Group on Costs and Benefits (Noise Subject Group) to assess the latest evidence for valuing noise impacts in England, including impacts on health. This expert Group has commissioned evidence reviews relating to potential health outcomes from exposure to noise from a range of sources, and the outputs of these reviews will be taken into account in considering whether any updates to relevant Government guidance are required.

Reports published to date can be found at the following sites: http://randd.defra.gov.uk/Default.aspx?Menu=Menu&Module=More&Location=None&ProjectID=20395&FromSearch=Y&Publisher=1&SearchText=cardiovascular&SortString=ProjectCode&SortOrder=Asc&Paging=10#Description; and http://sciencesearch.defra.gov.uk/Default.aspx?Menu=Menu&Module=More&Location=None&ProjectID=20398&FromSearch=Y&Publisher=1&SearchText=specific%20health&SortString=ProjectCode&SortOrder=Asc&Paging=10#Description.

Grouped Questions: HL2032 | HL2034
Asked on: 02 March 2020
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Noise: Pollution
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what measures are in place to (1) monitor, and (2) track, changes in (a) the amount of, and (b) the types of, noise complaints received by local authorities in England since 2015.
Answered on: 16 March 2020

The Chartered Institute of Environmental Health surveys local authorities to monitor and track changes in the amount of noise complaints received under statutory nuisance legislation. Their most recent survey report is available at https://www.cieh.org/policy/campaigns/noise-survey/, and includes some data on types of noise complaints. Given the existence of these surveys, the Government has not made a recent assessment of the case for gathering data on noise complaints. The data from these surveys feeds into Public Health England’s Public Health Outcomes Framework, published on GOV.UK, which includes three indicators related to the health impacts of noise in England. These are: the rate of complaints about noise; the percentage of the population exposed to high levels of road, rail and air transport noise during the daytime; and the percentage of the population exposed to high levels of road, rail and air transport noise during the night-time. More information and data, including trends, is available at https://fingertips.phe.org.uk/profile/public-health-outcomes-framework.

The Government estimates that the annual social cost of urban road noise in England is in the region of £7 to 10 billion. In 2019 we convened the Interdepartmental Group on Costs and Benefits (Noise Subject Group) to assess the latest evidence for valuing noise impacts in England, including impacts on health. This expert Group has commissioned evidence reviews relating to potential health outcomes from exposure to noise from a range of sources, and the outputs of these reviews will be taken into account in considering whether any updates to relevant Government guidance are required.

Reports published to date can be found at the following sites: http://randd.defra.gov.uk/Default.aspx?Menu=Menu&Module=More&Location=None&ProjectID=20395&FromSearch=Y&Publisher=1&SearchText=cardiovascular&SortString=ProjectCode&SortOrder=Asc&Paging=10#Description; and http://sciencesearch.defra.gov.uk/Default.aspx?Menu=Menu&Module=More&Location=None&ProjectID=20398&FromSearch=Y&Publisher=1&SearchText=specific%20health&SortString=ProjectCode&SortOrder=Asc&Paging=10#Description.

Grouped Questions: HL2032 | HL2033
Asked on: 02 March 2020
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Floods
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have, if any, to discuss with the International Rescue Corps what support that organisation could offer during future floods.
Answered on: 16 March 2020

Defra holds the Flood Rescue National Asset Register. This is a list of teams or assets that voluntarily join the register and maintain availability for national deployment during response to flooding. These assets include teams from the Fire and Rescue Service as well as the voluntary sector. Prior to joining the register, the capability of each team will have been assessed.

Details of how a team can join the National Register are laid out in the 2019 Flood Rescue Concept of Operations (FRCO) and my officials are available to discuss the joining requirements with the International Rescue Corps.

Asked on: 26 February 2020
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Flood Control: Finance
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to invest further in flood defences.
Answered on: 11 March 2020

The Government is doubling funding for flood defences to £5.2 billion in this week’s Budget, helping to build 2000 new flood and coastal defence schemes and better protecting 336,000 properties across the country.

Asked on: 03 March 2020
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Floods: Property
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what (1) advice, and (2) funding, they have provided, or intend to provide, to help property owners protect their properties from flooding.
Answered on: 11 March 2020

Since 2016 Defra have been working with industry through a Property Flood Resilience Roundtable to explore how business, homeowners, and Government can reduce the impact of flooding through greater awareness and the use of Property Flood Resilience (PFR) measures.

Following the unprecedented flooding in November and following the recent storms, Government announced Property Flood Resilience recovery grants of up to £5,000 in affected areas to help eligible homes and businesses become more flood resilient.

Between 2015 and 2021 the Environment Agency is spending approximately £3.6 million of grant in aid on PFR resistance measures for households at very significant risk. In additional, the Government is funding a £2.9 million PFR Pathfinder project which aims to boost the uptake of PFR measures through education, advice portals and innovative initiatives to make homes and buildings more resilient to floods.

Asked on: 03 March 2020
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Property: Insurance
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what discussions they have had, or intend to have, with the insurance industry about incentivising property owners to protect their properties from (1) flooding, and (2) wind damage.
Answered on: 11 March 2020

Since 2016, Defra has worked with insurers and other industry representatives through a Property Flood Resilience (PFR) Roundtable to take forward technical issues and develop pathways to deliver greater uptake of Property Flood Resilience. A ‘Code-of-Practice’ to improve service delivery has recently been published by the group.

Flood Re have published their Quinquennial Review into the future development of the scheme, including ways to incentivise PFR, which the Government is carefully considering.

We have not had any discussions with the insurance industry on wind damage.

Asked on: 03 March 2020
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Floods
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to provide more data to local organisations and communities to help them prepare for future floods.
Answered on: 11 March 2020

The Environment Agency (EA) publishes data and maps for England on coastal erosion risk and flood risk. This includes a five-day flood forecast, river levels and flood warnings. The EA makes, and will continue to make, this and other environmental data openly available for download so that it can be used by individuals, communities and local organisations free of charge. The EA will continue to improve these digital services based on feedback.

The EA will be releasing an updated flood information service (https://flood-warning-information.service.gov.uk/warnings) in spring 2020 which will feature more impact information, rainfall information and improved navigation. In addition, the EA is working with Fujitsu, EE and the University of Hull to undertake trials of Cell Broadcasting technology (https://flood-warning-information.service.gov.uk/cell-broadcast-trial), and is intending to work with other Government bodies to help to implement this service to warn those at highest risk in advance of flooding.

Asked on: 24 February 2020
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Waste: Exports
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park (HL226), what assessment they have made of how waste that is returned to its site of origin following inspection, or prevented from reaching ports, is (1) managed, and (2) processed, once returned to its site of origin.
Answered on: 10 March 2020

The Environment Agency (EA) is the competent authority for waste shipments for England. The actions taken by EA officers when they prevent a proposed waste shipment leaving a site or leaving a port will be determined on a case by case basis. When EA officers stop a shipment of waste at port, they oversee the return of the waste to either the site of origin or to an appropriately permitted waste facility. Waste can be held at port until the EA are satisfied that those responsible for the shipment have put appropriate measures in place to manage the waste in accordance with the relevant waste legislation. EA intervention at sites of loading will include officers explaining to businesses why waste cannot be exported, for example if there is evidence of poor waste quality or paperwork issues, and this intervention activity prevents thousands of tonnes of waste from being illegally exported each year. The EA addresses the illegal export of waste using an intelligence-led approach and EA officers will continue to monitor the compliance of those deemed at risk of illegal export, ensuring improvements are made and future shipments are compliant with the regulations.

Asked on: 25 February 2020
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Floods
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the impact of climate change on the prevalance and severity of recent flooding; and what plans they have taken to review the (1) Bellwin scheme, and (2) aid and support provided to local authorities, to ensure that communities have sufficient resilience to withstand such events.
Answered on: 10 March 2020

The second Climate Change Risk Assessment (CCRA) published in 2017 identifies risks to flooding and coastal change as one of the UK’s top six risks from climate change. The second National Adaptation Programme (NAP) published in 2018, sets out a plan of actions across Government to address these risks (amongst others identified in the CCRA) over the following 5 years. In addition updated UK Climate Projections – UKCP18 – are a key tool to help the Government, businesses and the public understand the future climate and enable them to make climate-resilient decisions.

The Government acted swiftly to activate the emergency Bellwin scheme to help local authorities cope with the cost of response in the immediate aftermath of recent flooding. The Bellwin scheme was activated after Storm Ciara on 10 February and Storm Dennis on 17 February 2020. Under the scheme, local authorities dealing with the flooding can apply to have 100% of their eligible costs, above a threshold, reimbursed by the government. The operation of the Bellwin Scheme was last reviewed in 2015. There are currently no plans to review it further.

The Ministry of Housing, Communities, and Local Government provides funding to local government to carry out functions including managing flood and coastal erosion risk, through the local government finance settlement.

Asked on: 25 February 2020
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Drinking Water: Colne Valley
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to ensure good-quality drinking water sources in the Colne Valley by 2027.
Answered on: 10 March 2020

The Government have put in place the Water Supply (Water Quality) Regulations 2016 which provide the framework for safe drinking water. Within these Regulations is the requirement for water companies to risk assess their supply systems and to keep those risk assessments under review. Risks identified in the risk assessment require mitigation. Any major constructions work within a water company’s area would result in a review of the risk assessment to identify any potential for impact and mitigation put in place to ensure drinking water meets the required standards and is safe for consumers.

Q
Asked by Lord Patten
Asked on: 25 February 2020
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Floods
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Viscount Younger of Leckie on 30 January (HL580), whether there is a map to show the areas at (1) current, and (2) future, risk of flooding in England.
Answered on: 10 March 2020

The Environment Agency’s (EA’s) Flood Map for Planning (https://flood-map-for-planning.service.gov.uk/) shows the current likelihood of flooding in England. This map takes into account extreme weather events.

While this map does not look at future risks, for many parts of the country the EA assesses future climate impacts on flood and coastal risk through local detailed flood and coastal erosion modelling. These models and outputs can be made available on request to assist in the resilient design of new development.

In addition, the EA is currently updating its national flood risk assessment. The new assessment will provide the information needed to guide and support flood risk management decisions and investment in a transparent and understandable way. It will give a dynamic, single story of flood risk for a location, for all sources of flooding, now and in the future, considering defence performance and regardless of scale.

Asked on: 24 February 2020
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Waste: Exports
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park (HL226), what assessment they have made of the proportion of shipping containers being returned following inspection; and what action they intend to take as a result.
Answered on: 09 March 2020

Of the 42 improperly documented containers of plastic waste referred to in the written answer by Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park (HL226) 38 containers have been returned to the UK. The Environment Agency (EA) are awaiting the return of 4 containers from Malaysia and these are due to return to England by the end of March 2020. The EA, as the competent authority of England, is overseeing the voluntary return of all 42 containers of waste however the return of the containers is being managed and financed by the parties involved in the original export to Malaysia as it is their responsibility. The EA continues to closely monitor the return to England and subsequent lawful recovery or disposal of the waste in the UK. The circumstances relevant to the export of these containers is currently being investigated and it is not possible to comment any further at this time.

Asked on: 24 February 2020
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Waste: Exports
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park (HL226), what assessment they have made of the effectiveness of sanctions as a means of discouraging the export of illegal waste shipments.
Answered on: 09 March 2020

The four UK regulators have a range of enforcement tools and sanctions available in respect to waste exports offences. The Environment Agency (EA) has published an Enforcement and Sanctions Policy and it details how the EA make enforcement and sanctioning decisions including the decision to prosecute. The EA also have internal enforcement governance procedures to ensure consistency, transparency and accountability for all enforcement recommendations or decisions they make. These procedures enable the EA to monitor offending and the sanctions and other interventions they use.

The Government has committed in the Resources & Waste Strategy to review the regulatory framework covering waste exports. We will consult this year on actions to better manage and control waste exports, including through tighter monitoring and enforcement of the existing regulations and we will seek views on the effectiveness of sanctions as part of that consultation.

The Environment Bill also includes a power to introduce electronic tracking of waste to help tackle waste crime here in the UK and prevent illegal waste from being shipped abroad.

Recognising the difficulties experienced by some countries in managing imports of plastic waste, the Queen’s Speech on 19 December last year included a commitment to ban the export of plastic wastes to countries that are not members of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development. We will consult this year on the date by which this should be achieved.

Asked on: 24 February 2020
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Waste: Exports
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park (HL226), how many successful prosecutions there were for breaches of waste shipment legislation in each of the past five years.
Answered on: 09 March 2020

The Environment Agency (EA) is responsible for enforcing waste shipments legislation in England. The EA aims to make sure its enforcement response is proportionate and appropriate to each situation and the EA has a range of enforcement powers and sanctions available to it to secure compliance. The EA’s first response is usually to give advice and guidance to bring an offender into compliance where possible. Where a criminal offence has been committed, in addition to any other enforcement action, the EA will consider instituting a prosecution, administering a caution or issuing a warning. Any UK operators found to be illegally exporting waste can face severe sanctions – from financial penalties up to imprisonment for a period of up to two years. The table below details the range of EA enforcement action over the past five years, including successful prosecutions.

Illegal Waste Export Enforcement 2015 – 2020 (to date)

Financial Year

Total Prosecutions

Court Fines

Imprisonment

Suspended Custodial Sentences

Cautions issued by EA

EA Warning Letters

Fixed Penalty Notices1

Civil Sanctions1

Stop/ Prevention Notices

2015-16

3

£30,450

0

3

0

9

0

0

168

2016-17

1

£1,800

0

1

0

11

1

1

150

2017-18

0

£0

0

0

1

4

0

0

160

2018-19

0

£0

0

0

0

3

0

0

238

2019-20 to date

1

£350,000

0

0

-

-

-

-

-

Totals

5

£382,250

0

4

1

27

1

1

716

[1] Issued by the Environment Agency

Q
Asked by Lord Hayward
Asked on: 24 February 2020
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Plastic Bags: Fees and Charges
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government when they plan to make an announcement in relation to the introduction of a plastic bag charge for small and medium-sized retailers.
Answered on: 06 March 2020

The 5p charge has been highly successful at reducing the use of single-use plastic carrier bags, doing so by over 90% in the main retailers since its introduction in 2015.

To build on this success and encourage further behaviour change, last year the Government consulted on increasing the charge to a minimum 10p and extending it to all retailers. Our initial assessment indicates that a 10p charge would bring a further 90% reduction at supermarkets and 80% reduction at high street retailers in year one. This would be followed by a 90% reduction at small retailers by year three. Changes such as these are complex and will take time, and we will publish the summary of responses and a Government response setting out next steps in due course.

Upon review, the Regulatory Policy Committee, an advisory non-departmental public body, sponsored by the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy, have agreed to the revised impact assessment and given it a positive ‘green’ rating. More information will be published along with the Government response in due course.

Grouped Questions: HL1746
Q
Asked by Lord Hayward
Asked on: 24 February 2020
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Plastic Bags: Fees and Charges
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they have changed their analysis of the impact of the introduction of a plastic bag charge for small and medium-sized retailers since July 2019.
Answered on: 06 March 2020

The 5p charge has been highly successful at reducing the use of single-use plastic carrier bags, doing so by over 90% in the main retailers since its introduction in 2015.

To build on this success and encourage further behaviour change, last year the Government consulted on increasing the charge to a minimum 10p and extending it to all retailers. Our initial assessment indicates that a 10p charge would bring a further 90% reduction at supermarkets and 80% reduction at high street retailers in year one. This would be followed by a 90% reduction at small retailers by year three. Changes such as these are complex and will take time, and we will publish the summary of responses and a Government response setting out next steps in due course.

Upon review, the Regulatory Policy Committee, an advisory non-departmental public body, sponsored by the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy, have agreed to the revised impact assessment and given it a positive ‘green’ rating. More information will be published along with the Government response in due course.

Grouped Questions: HL1745
Asked on: 24 February 2020
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Fly-tipping
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what increase there has been in fly-tipping in the last five years; what estimate they have made of the cost of dealing with any such increase; what assessment they have made of any link between fly-tipping and criminal gangs; and what new measures they are proposing to address fly-tipping.
Answered on: 06 March 2020

Defra publishes annual fly-tipping statistics for England, with the most recent publication on 7 November 2019 detailing the number of fly-tipping incidents reported by local authorities in the year to 31 March 2019. These can be found at https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/fly-tipping-in-england. The statistics show that incidents of fly-tipping have gradually increased over the last five years, albeit with a decrease reported between 2016/17 and 2017/18. The 2018/19 figures reported an increase of 8% from 2017/18. However, this most recent increase in recorded incidents does not necessarily mean the number of fly-tipping incidents has increased. Local authorities have reported that as they make it easier for citizens to report fly-tipping, for example through mobile apps, they see an increase in the number of incidents recorded.

Since 2017/18 we have changed the way that we present the costs of dealing with fly-tipping. The standard unit costs used for the majority of clearance and enforcement categories in previous statistical releases are now more than 10 years out of date. Defra therefore took the decision to cease using these costs from the 2017/18 fly-tipping statistical release onwards and total cost estimates for fly-tipping clearance and enforcement are not currently produced. However, we do report the clearance costs for ‘tipper lorry load’ and ‘significant/multi load’ incident categories, and enforcement costs for ‘prosecutions’, as these are reported directly by local authorities.

In 2018/19, 3% of all fly-tipping incidents were of ‘tipper lorry load’ size or larger, compared with 4% in 2017/18. This is consistent with the 3% of these incidents reported in 2014/15. The cost of clearance to local authorities in England have shown an increase however, costing £12.9 million in 2018/19, compared with £12.2 million in 2017/18 and £7.3 million in 2014/15.

Local authorities carried out a total of 2,397 prosecutions for fly-tipping offences in England in 2018/19, an increase of 7% on 2017/18 and 32% on 2014/15. Costs of prosecution actions have subsequently increased, from £288,037 in 2014/15 to £1,002,000 in 2018/19. The success rates for prosecution actions against fly-tipping are consistently above 95% and have been since records began in 2007/08.

In 2018, Defra commissioned a review into serious and organised criminality in the waste sector. This considered the operation of organised criminal gangs in the waste industry, including in relation to illegal dumping and fly-tipping. The recommendations of this review were included within our Resources and Waste Strategy (RWS), published in December 2018, which set out an ambitious package of commitments to modernise the way waste is regulated, in order to prevent, detect, and deter waste crime, including fly-tipping. In recent years, we have bolstered local authorities’ powers to tackle fly-tipping and we committed to further reforms in the RWS.

We are taking forward the commitment in the RWS to develop proposals for the reform of the waste carrier, broker, and dealer regime. We are working with industry and the regulator and we intend to consult later this year. At the same time, we intend to consult on the introduction of mandatory electronic waste tracking. This will reduce the ability of waste criminals to hide evidence of the systematic mishandling of waste and make it easier for enforcement authorities to identify material dropping out of the system, and therefore make it easier to protect against fly-tipping.

The Environment Bill provides a significant step forward in delivering a number of the commitments set out in the RWS. The provisions in the Environment Bill will work to ensure waste criminals, such as illegitimate waste operators reliant on fly-tipping for income, are held accountable for their actions.

Defra has previously worked with the Sentencing Council to amend sentencing guidance for fly-tipping offences and will continue this work to help to secure tougher penalties in line with the Government’s manifesto commitment.

As well as legislative changes, Defra is developing a fly-tipping toolkit, following a commitment in the RWS. The toolkit will be a web-based tool to help local authorities and others work in partnership to tackle fly-tipping. It will cover, for example, the use of new technology to report fly-tipping, the presentation of cases to court, the sharing of intelligence within and between partnerships and promoting the duty of care to individuals and businesses.

Asked on: 24 February 2020
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Flooding Lessons Learned Review
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to implement the recommendations contained in the report by Sir Michael Pitt The Pitt Review: Lessons learned from the 2007 floods, published on 25 June 2008, in particular to end developers’ automatic right to connect new developments to public sewers.
Answered on: 06 March 2020

The Government implemented recommendations from Sir Michael Pitt’s review through the Flood and Water Management Act 2010. The Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee’s report on the Post-legislative scrutiny of the Flood and Water Management Act 2010 was in its Sixth Report of Session 2016–17, published on 26 April 2017.

The Government response to the Committee’s report notes that planning practice guidance includes a hierarchy for sustainable drainage options that favours non-sewer solutions. Draining to a combined sewer should be the least favoured option in new development, to be considered when sustainable drainage options are not reasonably practicable. Removing the right to connect to an existing sewer therefore would offer no clear benefits over current arrangements and is likely to add costs and delay to the planning process for new housing.

Asked on: 24 February 2020
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Nature Conservation
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to reports of an increase in the number of thefts of endangered plant species, whether they have any plans to stregthen the provisions of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981.
Answered on: 05 March 2020

The Government takes all crime seriously and there are strong penalties in place for those found guilty of offences committed against wild plants and animals.

Wild plants are protected under section 13 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, with additional protection afforded to wild plants listed on Schedule 8.

Where there is evidence to suggest that illegal activity is occurring, we encourage all relevant authorities to ensure that sufficiently robust action is taken. Enforcement of all offences, however, including those against wild plants, is an operational matter for the police.

Those found guilty of offences under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 already face strong sanctions, including an unlimited fine and imprisonment. We have no plans to alter these sanctions. Decisions on sentencing in individual cases are taken independently of Government.

There are currently no plans to review the relevant provisions of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981.

Q
Asked by Lord Greaves
Asked on: 25 February 2020
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Food: Waste Disposal
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what is their estimate of the total annual cost of regular collections of food waste from (1) domestic households, (2) businesses, and (3) other organisations; and how such collection is funded in each case.
Answered on: 05 March 2020

In 2019 the Government published an impact assessment to support its consultation on greater consistency in household and business recycling. In that impact assessment Government estimated that an investment in the range of £180 million - £260 million would be needed to roll out weekly separate food waste collection across households in England. These costs assume that all local authorities make no other change to collection systems and are estimated over a 7 year transition period from 2023 to 2029. This was based on what would be needed to cover additional bins, vehicles and transportation of food waste to AD sites.

Given the additional costs involved in separate food waste collection the Government has stated that it will ensure that local authorities are resourced to meet new costs arising from separate food waste collections including upfront transition costs and ongoing operational costs.

For businesses and other organisations the total annual costs for separate food waste collections were estimated to be £189 million. This estimate is based on all businesses participating in the scheme.

The costs of business food waste collections would be funded by businesses. In the impact assessment published in 2019 our preferred option of having all businesses collect dry recyclable materials (with glass separated) and separate food waste collection showed that business could make greater savings overall and we would expect estimated savings of £1,206 million from the measures proposed to increase recycling in the non-household municipal sector. For very small or micro firms our impact assessment indicated that these might see greater costs from measures to increase recycling and Government is considering options to reduce costs for this sector including possible exemptions from requirements to separately collect food waste.

Asked on: 25 February 2020
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
High Speed 2 Railway Line: Colne Valley
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what reasons the Environment Agency gave for allowing HS2 Ltd to drill at the Harvil Road site in the Colne Valley.
Answered on: 05 March 2020

The Environment Agency (EA) has given permission to High Speed Two (HS2) Ltd to carry out drilling activities at the Harvil Road site under Schedule 33 of the High Speed Rail (London – West Midlands) Act 2017.

The EA reviewed the risks to groundwater quality and quantity by the HS2 Ltd construction activities at the Harvil Road site in the Colne Valley and did not identify any reasons to prohibit drilling activities at the site.

Q
Asked by Lord Patten
Asked on: 25 February 2020
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Tree Planting
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Viscount Younger of Leckie on 28 January (HL530), what are the actual numbers involved in their policy of "encouraging new tree planting on a massive scale"; and what is the period over which this will be achieved.
Answered on: 05 March 2020

We have set out an ambition to increase tree planting across the UK in this parliament to 30,000 hectares a year by 2025. In England we will increase planting with support from our new Nature for Climate Fund and are developing a programme for this. This will include support for domestic nurseries, grants to plant private land and support for a range of public, private and community organisations.

Q
Asked on: 26 February 2020
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Trees: Conservation
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what scrutiny they are undertaking of planning applications affecting ancient woodland and veteran trees.
Answered on: 05 March 2020

In 2018 the Government strengthened the protection for ancient woodlands and ancient and veteran trees in the revised National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) which states that development resulting in the loss or deterioration of irreplaceable habitats (such as ancient woodland and ancient or veteran trees) should be refused, unless there are wholly exceptional reasons and a suitable compensation strategy exists (para 175c). This wording was retained in the 2019 NPPF update. For more information please visit https://www.gov.uk/guidance/national-planning-policy-framework/15-conserving-and-enhancing-the-natural-environment

Local Planning Authorities (LPAs) determine planning applications affecting ancient woodland and veteran trees. Natural England (NE) are statutory consultees where an application might affect ancient woodland designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) or where development requires an Environmental Impact Assessment. 23% of ancient woodlands are SSSIs. The Forestry Commission (FC) are non-statutory consultees on planning applications affecting ancient woodland, responding if asked to by the LPA.

NE and the FC have prepared joint Standing Advice to assist local planning authorities making decisions on planning applications that may impact on ancient woodland, ancient and veteran trees. This advice is available on GOV.UK. There is no requirement for NE or the FC to be consulted on planning applications involving ancient and veteran trees, unless they are designated as a SSSI.

Ancient woodlands and ancient and veteran trees may also be impacted by Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects, for which NE and FC are statutory consultees. NE and the FC are also providing advice to HS2 Ltd on avoiding, mitigating and partially compensating for the impact of HS2 on ancient woodland and ancient and veteran trees.

Asked on: 13 February 2020
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Fly-tipping: Prosecutions
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what has been the number of prosecutions for fly tipping by local authorities in each of the last five years; and what has been the success rate of any such prosecutions.
Answered on: 27 February 2020

The total number of prosecutions for fly-tipping offences by local authorities in England, as well as the proportion that were successful, over the last five years are shown in the table below.

Year

Total number of prosecutions

Number of successful prosecutions

% of successful prosecutions

2014/15

1,810

1,771

97.8%

2015/16

2,203

2,091

94.9%

2016/17

1,571

1,546

98.4%

2017/18

2,243

2,186

97.5%

2018/19

2,397

2,306

96.2%

This information is published as part of the annual Fly-tipping Statistics for England, which is available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/fly-tipping-in-england

Q
Asked by Lord Birt
Asked on: 12 February 2020
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Birds of Prey: Conservation
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Gardiner of Kimble on 4 June 2019 (HL15826) and following the inception of the Raptor Persecution Priority Group, how that group will measure its success; and how many prosecutions have been mounted for the unlawful killing of hen harriers.
Answered on: 26 February 2020

The Raptor Persecution Priority Delivery Group is a police, rather than Government, led group. The group’s objectives are supported by a tactical delivery plan which sets out targeted measurable actions to reduce raptor persecution in England and Wales.

Ministry of Justice data shows that between 2013 and 2018 there were 98 prosecutions for offences against birds under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. It is not possible to break this data down by species.

Asked on: 13 February 2020
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Fly-tipping
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the adequacy of current legislation relating to fly tipping in (1) urban, and (2) rural, areas.
Answered on: 26 February 2020

In its manifesto, the Government committed to increase the penalties for fly-tipping. Fly-tipping is unacceptable whether it occurs in urban or rural areas and tackling this crime is a priority for the Government. Existing legislative and regulatory controls are the same for both urban and rural areas. Tackling fly-tipping requires a local approach, tailored to the characteristics of the area and the community in which the problem occurs. We are committed to encouraging local solutions for local problems and the role of central Government is to enable and support this local action: providing a clear legal framework of rights, responsibilities and powers, setting national standards and, where possible, making sure that the costs of dealing with fly-tipping is passed to those responsible for causing the problem.

The Resources and Waste Strategy, published in 2018, set out an ambitious package of commitments to modernise the way waste is regulated, to prevent, detect and deter waste crime, including fly-tipping. Defra is subsequently preparing a number of legislative reforms to tackle waste crime, including fly-tipping. We are taking forward the commitment in the Strategy to develop proposals for the reform of the waste carrier, broker and dealer regime. We are working with industry and the regulator and we intend to consult later this year. At the same time, we intend to consult on the introduction of mandatory electronic waste tracking. This will reduce the ability of waste criminals to hide evidence of the systematic mishandling of waste and make it easier for enforcement authorities to identify material dropping out of the system, and therefore make it easier to protect against fly-tipping. The reforms aim to improve competence in waste transportation and deter illegitimate operators from entering the sector. This will help to ensure that waste is dealt with appropriately and to reduce the incidence of waste crime and fly-tipping.

The Environment Bill provides a significant step forward in delivering a number of the commitments set out in the Resources and Waste Strategy. The newly introduced Bill amends section 108 of the Environment Act 1995 to make it easier for an officer to search premises to seize and remove documentary or other evidence. The new power does not require a warrant if there are reasonable grounds to suspect that first obtaining a warrant would allow for evidence to be concealed, altered or destroyed. Further to this, Schedule 11 of the Environment Bill removes the seven-day notice period required before powers of entry can be used to access residential premises. The current seven-day notice requirement enables, for example, rogue waste carriers who operate from their home address rather than a business address, to destroy evidence. These new powers will work to ensure waste criminals, such as illegitimate waste operators reliant on fly-tipping for income, are held accountable for their actions.

In recent years we have bolstered local authorities’ powers to tackle fly-tipping, including introducing fixed penalty notices of up to £400 for those who give their waste to fly-tippers, or fly-tip themselves. We have also enhanced the powers available to local authorities and the Environment Agency to search and seize the vehicles of suspected fly-tippers.

As well as legislative changes, Defra is developing a fly-tipping toolkit, following a commitment in the Resources and Waste Strategy. The toolkit will be a web-based tool to help local authorities and others work in partnership to tackle fly-tipping. It will cover, for example, the use of new technology to report fly-tipping, the presentation of cases to court, the sharing of intelligence within and between partnerships and promoting the duty of care to individuals and businesses.

Furthermore, as the majority of fly-tips involve household waste (62% in 2018/19), we published a research project on public awareness of and adherence to the household waste duty of care in August 2019. At the same time, we published related publicity materials. The materials have been provided to the Local Government Association to circulate to local authorities. They are also available on the website of National Fly-Tipping Prevention Group, which is chaired by Defra: http://www.tacklingflytipping.com. By limiting the material given to fly-tippers and using appropriately licenced waste carriers, everyone can play their part in reducing fly-tipping incidents.

Q
Asked by Baroness Quin
Asked on: 05 February 2020
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Sewage: Waste Disposal
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what consideration, if any, they gave to the provision of financial help to those on low incomes when introducing the 2015 rules following their consultation Reform of the Regulatory System to Control Small Sewage Discharges from Septic Tanks and Small Sewage Treatment Plants in England.
Answered on: 19 February 2020

A Regulatory Impact Assessment was carried out at the time that the 2015 rules were introduced. While no financial help is available for upgrading or replacing small sewage discharges regulated under General Binding Rules, the Environment Agency will agree a reasonable timescale with the owner where it identifies that improvements are required.

Q
Asked by Baroness Quin
Asked on: 05 February 2020
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Sewage: Waste Disposal
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what consideration, if any, they gave to providing financial help to householders when introducing the 2015 rules following their consultation on Reform of the Regulatory System to Control Small Sewage Discharges from Septic Tanks and Small Sewage Treatment Plants in England where the discharge facilities were situated within a Site of Special Scientific Interest.
Answered on: 19 February 2020

A Regulatory Impact Assessment was carried out at the time that the 2015 rules were introduced. While no financial help is available for upgrading or replacing small sewage discharges regulated under General Binding Rules, the Environment Agency will agree a reasonable timescale with the owner where it identifies that improvements are required.

With specific regard to any discharge facilities situated within a Site of Special Scientific Interest, additional regulatory requirements only arise as a direct consequence of that if the discharge in question was first made on or after 1 January 2015.

Q
Asked by Baroness Quin
Asked on: 05 February 2020
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Sewage: Waste Disposal
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what information they currently hold about the number of people on low incomes who are affected by the 2015 rules following their consultation on Reform of the Regulatory System to Control Small Sewage Discharges from Septic Tanks and Small Sewage Treatment Plants in England.
Answered on: 19 February 2020

Neither the Environment Agency nor Defra holds any information regarding the number of people on low incomes who rely on non-mains sewerage systems.

Q
Asked on: 13 February 2020
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Ivory Act 2018
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether the implementation of the Ivory Act 2018 is a priority.
Answered on: 19 February 2020

The implementation of the Ivory Act 2018 is a priority for the Government. We are working to implement the Act as soon as practicable, including the preparation of the secondary legislation required to commence the Act.

Grouped Questions: HL1637
Q
Asked on: 13 February 2020
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Ivory Act 2018
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether the Ivory Act 2018 will commence upon the conclusion of the ongoing judicial proceedings.
Answered on: 19 February 2020

The implementation of the Ivory Act 2018 is a priority for the Government. We are working to implement the Act as soon as practicable, including the preparation of the secondary legislation required to commence the Act.

Grouped Questions: HL1636
Q
Asked by Lord Bradshaw
Asked on: 04 February 2020
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Sewage: Water Treatment
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park on 29 January (HL608), what powers exist to curtail housing developments in the Thames Valley until sufficient capacity for treating sewage has been developed by Thames Water.
Answered on: 18 February 2020

The Water Industry Act 1991 places a duty on water and sewerage companies to provide, maintain and extend a system of public sewers to ensure that the area is and continues to be effectually drained. Water and sewerage companies and the Environment Agency are statutory consultees on local authority development plans, which provide the primary means of determining where future development should be located, including in respect of wastewater infrastructure. Local councils in their role as local planning authorities adjudicate on individual planning applications which, under planning law, must be decided in accordance with the development plan, subject to other material planning considerations. Water and sewerage companies can comment on individual applications and their representations should be taken into account by the planning authority where they raise material planning considerations.

Asked on: 04 February 2020
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Sewage: Rivers
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the environmental damage caused by spillages from combined sewer overflows releasing raw sewage into rivers; and what plans they have to prevent such spillages.
Answered on: 17 February 2020

Combined sewers that carry surface water from roofs and roads together with sewage from homes are a common sewage system. On occasion, storm sewage discharges occur from Combined Sewer Overflows (CSOs) when the risk of sewer flooding is high and pipework capacity is exceeded. This is done to reduce the flood risk to homes and businesses. The Environment Agency (EA) has looked at the reasons for rivers not achieving good ecological status and found that about 3% of water bodies are failing due to the impact of CSOs.

To prevent spillages, between 2015 to 2020 water companies are installing monitors on up to 13,000 of the 15,000 CSOs in England. These will measure how often and for how long they operate, helping inform where improvement works may be required and providing information to the public about spills. This information has been used to help develop the environmental programme that the water companies will be implementing over the next five years. This includes further monitoring of CSOs, over 700 investigations and more than 200 schemes for environmental improvement or to reduce the spills from CSOs.

Q
Asked by Lord Bradshaw
Asked on: 28 January 2020
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
River Thames: Sewage
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government on how many occasions the Environment Agency has prosecuted Thames Water for illegal discharges of untreated sewage into the River Thames or its tributaries in the last five years for which figures are available; and in what instances a penalty was imposed as a result of any such prosecution.
Answered on: 06 February 2020

The table below shows the prosecutions of Thames Water Utilities Limited by the Environment Agency during the five calendar year period (from 2015 to 2019) for illegal discharges of sewage to the River Thames and its direct and indirect tributaries.

Each row of the chart represents one prosecution. The watercourse related to the prosecution is shown in the centre column, and the type of penalty which resulted from the prosecution is shown in the right-hand column.

Table title: Prosecution of Thames Water Utilities Limited by the Environment Agency, 2015 to 2019, for sewage discharges to direct and indirect tributaries to the River Thames

Date of Prosecution
[appeal hearing dates in brackets]

Name of Water Course

Outcome

16/02/2015

River Blackwater

Fined

29/08/2014 [03/06/2015]

River Enborne, Chase Brook and nearby watercourses

Fined

04/01/2016

Grand Union Canal

Fined

07/03/2016

Horsenden Stream

Fined

22/03/2017

Fawley Court Stream

Fined

22/03/2017

River Thames

Fined

22/03/2017

River Thames

Fined

22/03/2017

Moor Ditch

Fined

22/03/2017

River Thames

Fined

22/03/2017

Barkham Brook

Fined

10/07/2019

Maidenhead Ditch and River Cut

Fined

21/12/2018 [26/07/2019]

Idbury Brook

Fined

Asked on: 28 January 2020
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Wood-burning Stoves
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what was the total value of fees paid to certifiers to grant wood burning stove manufacturers exemptions from the provisions of the Clean Air Act 1993.
Answered on: 06 February 2020

Under the Clean Air Act 1993, the Government publishes a list of solid fuel combustion appliances exempted from the prohibition of smoke emissions in smoke control areas.

To add a new appliance to the list, the manufacturer of the appliance must apply to HETAS, the appointed contractor, for approval. They must submit technical and testing documentation evidencing that emissions limits have been met.

The total amount of fees invoiced for by HETAS to manufacturers for this purpose, during the period of April 2019 to 29 of January 2020, was £97,421.

Asked on: 28 January 2020
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Wood-burning Stoves
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what controls a local authority can impose on a wood burning stove that has been granted an exemption from the provisions of the Clean Air Act 1993
Answered on: 06 February 2020

Under Part III of the Clean Air Act 1993 (CAA), it is an offence to emit smoke from a chimney of a building in a Smoke Control Area (SCA) unless burning an authorised fuel or using an exempt appliance. Local authorities are responsible for designation and enforcement of SCAs.

To obtain exemption, appliances such as wood-burning stoves must pass smoke emissions tests. Exemptions are granted on conditions such as requiring users to operate the appliance in accordance with the manufacturers’ instructions and only burn specified fuels. Local authorities can take action in SCAs where they have identified that a user is not complying with these conditions and an offence has occurred.

We recognise that enforcement of SCAs can be challenging. For this reason, we are proposing to amend Part III of the CAA through the Environment Bill to enable quicker, simpler and more proportionate enforcement of SCAs. This includes enabling local authorities in England to issue civil financial penalties for chimney smoke emissions. This will be possible as the regime will shift from being a criminal to a civil regime. This regime change will also remove the statutory defences, including the use of an exempt appliance or an authorised fuel, that currently hinder enforcement. Authorities have no means by which to determine whether the statutory defences apply as they are unable to enter private premises. These changes should make it easier for local authorities to tackle misuse of exempt wood-burning stoves.

Asked on: 28 January 2020
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Wood-burning Stoves
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government how many installed wood burning stoves have been granted exemptions from the provisions of the Clean Air Act 1993.
Answered on: 06 February 2020

The information requested is not held by Defra. Such information may however be held by local authorities for their individual areas.

The list of exempt appliances under the Clean Air Act 1993 is published on the Defra website at the address below:

https://smokecontrol.defra.gov.uk/appliances.php

Asked on: 28 January 2020
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Air Pollution
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government how many pollution and smoke complaints it has not been possible to enforce due to the polluter having purchased an exception from the provisions of the Clean Air Act 1993.
Answered on: 06 February 2020

The information requested is not held by Defra. Such information may however be held by local authorities for their individual areas.

Q
Asked on: 29 January 2020
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Drinking Water
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what figures they hold on the number of (1) tourism attractions, (2) high street retailers, (3) railway stations, and (4) UK airports, that offer drinking water refill points.
Answered on: 06 February 2020

The Government recognises the importance of making drinking water more readily available in public places, as a means of reducing single-use plastic bottles. As laid out in the 25 Year Environment Plan and the Resources and Waste Strategy, we are already taking action in this area

Ministers have supported transport hubs, particularly railway stations and airports, to offer free water refill points. Although the Government does not collect the precise data requested, we have seen positive responses from Network Rail and rail operators. We are also pleased that around half of the UK’s international airports now have water fountains enabling customers to refill their own water containers.

The Government is also supporting water companies, high street retailers, coffee shops and transport hubs to offer new refill points for people to top-up water bottles free in every major city and town in England. The water industry is developing a network of refill points through its Refill app, managed by City to Sea. There are now over 27,000 refill points available on the app, which is used by an average of 20,000 people each month and is estimated to have saved over 100 million single use bottles from entering our waste stream in 2019.

Q
Asked on: 29 January 2020
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Plastics: Hotels
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking, in partnership with relevant businesses, to reduce the use of plastics in hotels.
Answered on: 06 February 2020

The Government’s Resources and Waste Strategy for England, published in December 2018, sets out our plans to reduce, reuse and recycle more plastic than we do now. Our target is to eliminate all avoidable plastic waste throughout the lifetime of the 25 Year Environment Plan, but for the most problematic plastics we are going faster - that is why we are working towards all plastic packaging placed on the market being recyclable, reusable or compostable by 2025.

The Resources and Waste Strategy sets out various proposals that will help businesses, including hotels, reduce their use of single-use plastics. These include the introduction of a deposit-return scheme for drinks containers, bans on some of the most commonly littered single-use plastics such as drink stirrers, and extension of the carrier bag charge to all retailers.

The Government also supports the UK Plastics Pact (UKPP), a collaborative initiative to create a circular system that keeps plastic in the economy and out of the natural environment. UKPP members are working towards four key targets by 2025, including to eliminate the use of unnecessary single-use plastics. The UKPP has more than 120 business members, including many from the retail and hospitality sectors.

Asked on: 29 January 2020
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Fly-tipping
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of whether there has been any increase in fly-tipping in the last five years; and what consideration they have given to legislative and regulatory reforms to support local authorities and the police in the prevention of such a crime.
Answered on: 06 February 2020

Defra publishes annual fly-tipping statistics for England, which show that incidents of fly-tipping have gradually increased over the last five years, albeit with a decrease reported between 2016/17 and 2017/18. Defra most recently published the annual fly-tipping statistics on 7 November 2019. The 2018/19 figures reported an increase of 8% from those reported in 2017/18. However, this most recent increase in recorded incidents does not necessarily mean the number of fly-tipping incidents has increased. Local authorities have reported that as they make it easier for citizens to report fly-tipping, for example through mobile apps, they see an increase in the number of incidents recorded.

In recent years we have bolstered local authorities’ powers to tackle fly-tipping, including introducing new fixed penalty notices, and we continue to work with partners to tackle this unacceptable criminal activity. Defra is preparing a number of legislative reforms to tackle waste crime, including fly-tipping.

We are taking forward the commitment in the Resources and Waste Strategy (RWS) to develop proposals for the reform of the waste carrier, broker, and dealer regime. We are working with industry and the regulator and we intend to consult later this year. At the same time, we intend to consult on the introduction of mandatory electronic waste tracking. This will, amongst other things, reduce the ability of waste criminals to hide evidence of the systematic mishandling of waste material dropping out of the system and so make it easier to protect against fly-tipping. The reform aims to deter illegitimate operators from entering the sector. This will help to ensure that waste is dealt with appropriately and to reduce the incidence of waste crime and fly-tipping.

The newly introduced Environment Bill amends section 108 of the Environment Act 1995. This will make it easier for an officer to search premises that they have the power to enter, to seize and remove documentary or other evidence, to require electronic information to be produced in a form that enables it to be removed or produced as documentary evidence, and to operate equipment found on the premises to produce information from it. The new power does not require a warrant if there are reasonable grounds to suspect that first obtaining a warrant would allow for evidence to be concealed, altered or destroyed. Further to this, Schedule 11 of the Environment Bill removes the seven-day notice period required before powers of entry can be used to access residential premises. The current seven-day notice requirement enables, for example, rogue waste carriers who operate from their home address rather than a business address, to destroy evidence. These new powers will work to ensure waste criminals, such as illegitimate waste operators reliant on fly-tipping for income, are held accountable for their actions.

As well as forthcoming legislative reforms and recent fixed penalty notice powers, we recently published publicity materials to help householders better understand their responsibilities under the waste duty of care. The materials have been provided to the Local Government Association to circulate to local authorities, and published on the National Fly-Tipping Prevention Group’s website. Householders have a legal ‘duty of care’ to ensure they only give their waste to a licensed carrier and that it is not taken by an illegal waste carrier who is likely to fly-tip it, but about two-thirds of fly-tipped waste is household waste.

A conviction in a Crown Court for fly-tipping can lead to an unlimited fine or up to five years in prison. Defra has worked with the Sentencing Council to amend sentencing guidance for these offences, but will continue this work to help to secure tougher penalties in line with the Government’s manifesto commitment.

Defra is also developing a fly-tipping toolkit following a commitment in the RWS. The toolkit will be a web-based tool to help local authorities and others work in partnership to tackle fly-tipping. It will cover, for example, the use of new technology to report fly-tipping, the presentation of cases to court, the sharing of intelligence within and between partnerships and promoting the duty of care to individuals and businesses.

Q
Asked on: 29 January 2020
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Beaches: Standards
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to maintain the current standards of cleanliness on UK beaches after Brexit; and, in particular, whether they intend to maintain the standards set out in the EU's Bathing Water and Water Framework Directives.
Answered on: 06 February 2020

Leaving the EU does not change the UK’s ambition on the environment; the Government has no intention of weakening our current environmental protections now that we have left the EU. The UK has a long history of environmental protection, supported by a strong legal framework which predates our membership of the EU, and we will safeguard and improve on this record.

The European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018 will ensure that the body of existing EU environmental law, including our Water Framework Directive regulations and the Bathing Water Regulations, continues to have effect in UK law now that we have left the EU.

Local authorities’ existing statutory duties to remove litter and refuse from beaches above the high-water mark are unaffected by our departure from the EU. The statutory Code of Practice on Litter and Refuse sets out the standards that local authorities are expected to achieve in doing so.

Q
Asked by Lord Patten
Asked on: 23 January 2020
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Lighting: Pollution
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the impact of the annual 2.2 per cent growth of global light pollution, according to the journal Environmental Evidence, on the (1) environment, and (2) health, of the UK.
Answered on: 06 February 2020

The Government has not made a specific assessment of the impact of the annual growth of global light pollution on the environment.

Defra has published or contributed to a range of assessments of the impact of artificial light on insects and wider biodiversity, as well as global and national assessments of the drivers of biodiversity loss more generally.

Following publication of the Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution’s report, ‘Artificial light in the environment’ in 2009, Defra has supported assessments of impacts of artificial light on insects and on other organisms such as bats. These are published on our science website. Defra has also funded or co-funded national and international assessments of drivers of change on insects and wider biodiversity such as the global IPBES Assessment Report on Pollinators, Pollination and Food Production, which notes that effects of light on nocturnal insects may be growing and identifies the need for further study.

There have been a number of externally funded studies which have highlighted potential impacts of artificial light pollution on insects, which Defra keeps under review, for example, with our academic partners on the National Pollinator Strategy for England.

Public Health England carried out a study in 2016 for the Chartered Institution of Building Services Engineers and the Society of Light and Lighting, which included an assessment of light-emitting diode (LED) streetlights on health. The study concluded that some LED streetlight luminaires emitted more blue light than was necessary, but that there was no evidence of direct adverse health effects on people.

Asked on: 22 January 2020
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Plastics: Waste
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to deal with the containers of plastic waste returning to the UK from Malaysia; and how they intend to police any further offshore waste contracts.
Answered on: 05 February 2020

The Government is deeply concerned about the illegal trade in waste, including reports of illegal plastic waste exported from the UK to Malaysia. Recognising the difficulties experienced by some countries in managing imports of plastic waste the Queen’s Speech on the 19 December included a commitment to ban the export of polluting plastic wastes to countries that are not members of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). The Environment Bill includes a power which will enable us to deliver on this commitment and we will consult this year on the date by which this should be achieved. The Bill also includes a power to introduce electronic tracking of waste to help tackle waste crime here in the UK and prevent illegal waste from being shipped abroad.

The Environment Agency (EA), as competent authority of England, is overseeing the voluntary return of all 42 improperly documented containers of plastic waste from Malaysia and subsequent lawful recovery or disposal of the waste in the UK. Currently, 35 of the containers have already arrived in England and the remaining 7 are scheduled to be returned shortly. The return of these containers is being managed and financed by the parties involved in the original export to Malaysia as it is their responsibility.

In addition, the British High Commission in Kuala Lumpur is currently supporting the Malaysian government in tackling the wider plastic waste problem. This includes sharing UK experience as well as collaborating with the Malaysian government in developing a Malaysian version of a Plastics Pact (a cross stakeholder grouping) to drive more effective management of plastic and plastic wastes. My department and the British High Commission also facilitated a technical meeting in Kuala Lumpur between UK and Malaysian enforcement authorities to improve plastic waste export/import protocols.

Compliance with the legislation on waste shipments is monitored by the UK’s four environmental regulators[1]. In England in 2018/19 the EA inspected almost 1,000 shipping containers at ports and returned over 200 of those to sites. During this period, the EA also prevented 12,000 tonnes of waste from reaching ports which may have otherwise been exported illegally. Any operators found to be illegally exporting waste can face severe sanctions – from financial penalties to imprisonment for a period of up to two years.

[1] The Environment Agency in England, the Scottish Environment Protection Agency, the Northern Ireland Environment Agency and Natural Resources Wales

Asked on: 29 January 2020
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Livestock: Colistin
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have, if any, to ban the use of colistin in farming.
Answered on: 04 February 2020

There are currently no plans to ban the sale of colistin. Colistin is classed as a Highest Critically Important Antibiotic (HP-CIA) meaning that this type of antibiotic is reserved as a last-line treatment for clinical conditions where no alternatives exist. In some instances, colistin may be the only effective means of treating certain animal diseases.

The UK Government is committed to working with livestock sectors to reduce inappropriate antibiotic use and there have been many successes over the last few years including the sales of antibiotics for food-producing animals decreasing by 53% in the last five years. Colistin is one of the least commonly used antibiotics in animals in the UK and its use in food-producing animals has reduced by 99% to a very low level.

Asked on: 21 January 2020
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Plastics: Waste
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to prevent the export of plastic waste.
Answered on: 04 February 2020

The Government is deeply concerned about the illegal trade in waste, including reports of illegal plastic waste exported from the UK.

Recognising the difficulties experienced by some countries in managing imports of plastic waste the Queen’s Speech on the 19 December included a commitment to ban the export of polluting plastic wastes to countries that are not members of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). The Environment Bill includes a power which will enable us to deliver on this commitment and we will consult this year on the date by which this should be achieved. The Bill also includes a power to introduce electronic tracking of waste to help tackle waste crime here in the UK and prevent illegal waste from being shipped abroad.

Compliance with the legislation on waste shipments is monitored by the UK’s four environmental regulators[1]. In England in 2018/19 the Environment Agency (EA) inspected almost 1,000 shipping containers at ports and returned over 200 of those to sites. During this period, the EA also prevented 12,000 tonnes of waste from reaching ports which may have otherwise been exported illegally.

Any operators found to be illegally exporting waste can face severe sanctions – from financial penalties to imprisonment for a period of up to two years.

[1] The Environment Agency in England, the Scottish Environment Protection Agency, the Northern Ireland Environment Agency and Natural Resources Wales

Asked on: 28 January 2020
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Forests
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to support measures to address international deforestation.
Answered on: 03 February 2020

The UK Government has a long and proud history of supporting action to combat deforestation.

As part of our 25 Year Environment Plan, we have committed to protect the world’s forests by enhancing sustainability and supporting deforestation-free supply chains. We are signatory to the Amsterdam Declarations and have endorsed the New York Declaration on Forests, which supports a fully sustainable palm oil supply chain from 2020.

The Government recently convened a Global Resource Initiative taskforce, which will report this spring and recommend actions the UK can take to address our global commodity supply chain footprint. We are a member of Tropical Forest Alliance 2020, a public-private partnership working to help organisations achieve their deforestation-free commitments. In addition the UK has set up the Partnership for Forests Programme, which supports organisations that produce agricultural goods without causing deforestation. We have also been at the forefront of tackling illegal logging though our commitment to the Forest Law Enforcement Governance and Trade and Timber Regulations.

At the 2015 Paris climate summit, Germany, Norway and the UK pledged $5 billion over the period 2015 to 2020 to developing countries to protect forests. We have a shared objective of ensuring the forests and land-use sector plays a key role in meeting global climate goals along with encouraging ambitious action from developing countries to protect their rainforests while supporting communities to develop sustainable forest practices.

Our International Climate Finance (ICF) spending is our primary mechanism to meet the UK’s international forest commitments.

At the United Nations Climate Action Summit in September 2019, the Prime Minister announced that the ICF will be doubled to at least £11.6 billion between 2021/22 and 2025/26, in a clear signal that the UK is stepping up its efforts even further to address climate change and tackle deforestation. This fund will include spending to protect forests and mangroves, create new protected areas and restore degraded ecosystems which were once home to forests, mangroves and other precious habitats.

Asked on: 20 January 2020
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Plastics: Waste
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have, if any, to ban the export of plastic waste.
Answered on: 03 February 2020

The Government is deeply concerned about the illegal trade in waste, including reports of illegal plastic waste exported from the UK.

Recognising the difficulties experienced by some countries in managing imports of plastic waste the Queen’s Speech on the 19 December included a commitment to ban the export of polluting plastic wastes to countries that are not members of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development.

The Environment Bill includes a power which will enable us to deliver on this commitment and we will consult this year on the date by which this should be achieved.

Asked on: 21 January 2020
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Hazards
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they intend to take to ensure that hazard data is publicly available and visible, in particular, data on (1) coastal erosion, (2) wind strength, (3) flood risks, and (4) the impact on the delivery of emergency services.
Answered on: 03 February 2020

The Government has already taken a number of steps to ensure that hazard data is publicly available and visible.

The Environment Agency (EA) publishes data and maps on coastal erosion and flood risks. The EA also issues flood warnings and flood alerts as part of the Government Digital Service. These are publicly available. The EA also makes other environmental data openly available for download via the Defra Data Services Platform.

The Met Office provides forecasts of average wind speed and wind gust speed up to a week ahead. This is available on the Met Office’s public website and its app. When wind is deemed likely to pose a significant hazard, the Met Office issues warnings to public and emergency responders as part of the National Severe Weather Warning Service. Warnings are accessible from the Met Office through its app and also widely available via many other media channels.

More widely, the National Risk Register (NRR) is a public-facing document that delivers an overview of the key risks most likely to cause disruption in the UK and provides key guidance on individual preparedness during emergencies. The NRR is the declassified version of the National Security Risk Assessment, a cross-Government document that rigorously assesses key risks and their impacts on the UK, including extensive data on the disruption to emergency services. Though it cannot publish all data due to inherent sensitivities, the NRR identifies disruption to emergency services as a key consequence of many of the natural hazards and, where possible, links to key websites hosting hazard data and information on potential disruptions are provided. The current NRR can be found on the GOV.UK website and an updated version will be published in the first half of 2020.

Q
Asked by Lord Bradshaw
Asked on: 21 January 2020
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government how many times OFWAT has fined Thames Water for illegal discharges of untreated sewage into rivers; and what penalties were imposed on each occasion.
Answered on: 29 January 2020

Ofwat has not fined Thames Water for illegal discharges of untreated sewage into rivers. Regulation of discharges of untreated sewage to the water environment is the responsibility of the Environment Agency (EA) and not Ofwat.

In March 2017, Thames Water was ordered to pay fines of almost £20 million following a series of significant pollution incidents on the River Thames and its tributaries in 2012 to 2014. The fine, for six separate cases, was a record as the highest ever set by the courts in a prosecution brought by the EA. More recently, in July 2019, Thames Water was ordered to pay costs and fines of about £700,000 for pollution from Maidenhead Sewage Treatment Works.

Asked on: 21 January 2020
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what funding they plan to provide towards (1) the prevention of coastal erosion, and (2) new housing and infrastructure in inland areas as a result of any such erosion.
Answered on: 29 January 2020

The Government is investing £2.6 billion between 2015 and 2021 to better protect the country from flooding. This will deliver over 1,000 flood defence schemes to better protect 300,000 homes by 2021.

Of this £2.6 billion, over £1.2 billion of the current Government funding programme will better protect 170,000 properties from coastal change.

The National Planning Policy Framework expects local authorities to make provision for development and infrastructure that needs to be relocated away from Coastal Change Management Areas. There are a range of Government funding mechanisms (for new homes and growth for example) that can be used proactively to support change in communities. Coastal Protection Authorities (usually District Councils) lead on coastal erosion risk management activities in their area.

We are looking at current funding arrangements and an assessment of funding needs beyond 2021. We will continue to work with the Environment Agency to consider future investment needs and the Government’s role in supporting the resilience of communities.

Q
Asked by Lord Patten
Asked on: 14 January 2020
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Lighting: Pollution
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the levels of light pollution in the UK; whether light pollution in the UK is decreasing; and if so, at what rate.
Answered on: 27 January 2020

A range of measures are in place to ensure that light pollution is effectively managed through controls in the planning system, the statutory nuisance regime and improvements in street lighting.

The Government has not made a recent assessment of overall levels of light pollution in the UK or of whether these are decreasing.

Q
Asked by Lord Patten
Asked on: 16 January 2020
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Lighting: Pollution
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the cost of wasted energy from light pollution; and what assessment they have made of the impact of light pollution on (1) health, (2) wildlife, and (3) astronomy.
Answered on: 27 January 2020

1. Public Health England carried out a study in 2016 for the Chartered Institution of Building Services Engineers and the Society of Light and Lighting, which included an assessment of light-emitting diode (LED) streetlights on health. The study concluded that some LED streetlight luminaires emitted more blue light than was necessary, but that there was no evidence of direct adverse health effects on people.

2. Defra has published or contributed to a range of assessments of the impact of artificial light on insects and wider biodiversity, as well as global and national assessments of the drivers of biodiversity loss more generally.

Following publication of the Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution’s report, ‘Artificial light in the environment’ in 2009, Defra has supported assessments of impacts of artificial light on insects and on other organisms such as bats. These are published on our science website. Defra has also funded or co-funded national and international assessments of drivers of change on insects and wider biodiversity such as the global IPBES Assessment Report on Pollinators, Pollination and Food Production, which notes effects of light on nocturnal insects may be growing and identifies the need for further study.

There have been a number of externally funded studies which have highlighted potential impacts of artificial light pollution on insects, which Defra keeps under review, for example, with our academic partners on the National Pollinator Strategy for England.

3. Government officials have met with relevant stakeholders including the Commission for Dark Skies but have not made an assessment of the impact of light pollution on astronomy.

The Government has not made an assessment specifically of the cost of wasted energy from light pollution. In respect of the Strategic Road network a full appraisal is carried out before any lighting project is commissioned, including in-depth analysis of the environmental impact and economic benefits of the scheme. All lighting on the network is designed according to current British and European standards which emphasise the importance of limiting light pollution, and older forms of lantern are in the process of being replaced with environmentally sensitive lighting when they become due for renewal.

Asked on: 27 January 2020
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Air Pollution
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the report by the Centre for Cities Cities Outlook 2020, published on 27 January; and in particular, whether there is a "south–north" divide in air quality in the UK.
Answered on: 03 February 2020

We are aware of the Centre for Cities report and are considering its evidence and findings. Improving air quality is a top priority for this Government and we are committed to take action to drive down overall emissions of air pollutants across the UK and reduce human exposure to local concentrations of pollutants.

Levels of air pollution in the UK vary significantly depending on the specific pollutant, location, time of day and season. There are many factors that contribute to levels of air pollution at a local level but proximity to the European continent also plays a role particularly for the pollutant of greatest harm to human health, PM2.5. Around a third of the UK PM2.5 can be from sources outside of the UK (up to 50% on specific days). Many additional factors also contribute such as weather conditions and population density but South East areas of England are more affected by transboundary pollution in comparison to more north westerly regions of the UK.

To improve air quality across the UK, the Government have already put in place a £3.5 billion plan to reduce harmful emissions from road transport and are supporting 61 English local authorities in both the North and the South of England to reduce nitrogen dioxide. We have also published the Clean Air Strategy (CAS) which sets out comprehensive action to reduce the national emissions of pollutants, reduce background pollution, and minimise human exposure to harmful concentrations of pollution. The CAS also seeks to drive down emissions of PM2.5 across the UK and provide stronger powers to tackle it in local areas where there is a problem. Furthermore, the forthcoming Environment Bill will introduce measures to ensure both neighbouring local authorities and relevant public authorities work collaboratively and cooperate to tackle the problem of regional air pollution. To tackle transboundary pollution we are increasing our International engagement activity. The Bill will also introduce a duty to set a target for concentration levels of PM2.5 in ambient air as well as a duty to set an additional long-term target on air quality, going beyond EU requirements and delivering significant health benefits for our citizens

Q
Asked by Lord Greaves
Asked on: 09 January 2020
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Beavers: Devon
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government how they intend to assess the results of the five-year River Otter Beaver Trial, led by the Devon Wildlife Trust.
Answered on: 23 January 2020

We continue to discuss the ongoing trial with the Devon Wildlife Trust and their partners, with Natural England (NE) and the Environment Agency represented on its Steering and Working Groups. Defra and NE will assess the trial using the reports and recommendations that will be submitted to us by the Trust upon the trial’s conclusion. We will then use these findings to inform decisions on the future of the trial and the beavers on the River Otter.

Q
Asked by Lord Patten
Asked on: 16 January 2020
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Tree Planting: Urban Areas
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Gardiner of Kimble on 7 January (HL64), how many trees they intend to plant in towns and cities between 2020 and 2025.
Answered on: 23 January 2020

This Government recognises the vital role trees play in delivering social, environmental and economic benefits in and around our towns and cities. They help clean and cool the air, prevent flood risk, and support our physical and mental health.

The Government is committed to increasing tree planting across the UK throughout this parliament to 30,000 hectares per year by 2025. We have not set a specific target for the number of urban trees which will be planted, but have announced a Nature for Climate Fund which will support planting in rural and urban areas.

We are currently planting through the Urban Tree Challenge Fund, which supports planting of at least 20,000 large trees and 110,000 small trees in urban areas in England. We are also introducing a new duty on local authorities to consult local communities when considering felling street trees.

Q
Asked on: 23 January 2020
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Tree Planting
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what targets they have for the planting of trees to support reaching net-zero carbon emissions by 2050; and what assessment they have made of their progress against any such targets.
Answered on: 03 February 2020

Net Zero challenges all sectors to decarbonise and reduce emissions as fast as they can. Our woodlands and forests are an important carbon sink – currently capturing 4% of the UK’s annual greenhouse gas emissions. To increase their potential to capture carbon, we must increase planting rates immediately.

The Government has committed to increasing planting rates across the UK to 30,000 hectares per year by 2025, in line with the Committee on Climate Change’s recommendation. Our Nature for Climate fund will support increased planting in England, and we will work with the Devolved Administrations to increase planting across the UK.

Asked on: 08 January 2020
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Malaysia: Plastics
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the illegal shipment of plastic waste from the UK to Malaysia, following the decision by the government of China to ban any international plastic waste being processed within mainland China.
Answered on: 22 January 2020

The Government is deeply concerned about the illegal trade in waste, including reports of illegal plastic waste exported from the UK to Malaysia. Recognising the difficulties experienced by some countries in managing imports of plastic waste, the Queen’s Speech on the 19 December included a commitment to ban the export of polluting plastic wastes to countries that are not members of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). We will consult this year on the date by which this should be achieved.

We are working closely with the Malaysian Government to support the return of 42 improperly documented containers of plastic waste. In addition, the British High Commission in Kuala Lumpur is currently supporting the Malaysian Government in tackling the wider plastic waste problem. This includes sharing UK experience as well as collaborating with the Malaysian Government in developing a Malaysian version of a Plastics Pact (a cross stakeholder grouping) to drive more effective management of plastic and plastic wastes. My department and the British High Commission also facilitated a technical meeting in Kuala Lumpur between UK and Malaysian enforcement authorities to improve plastic waste export/import protocols.

While we acknowledge that there is a legitimate export market for plastic waste as a secondary raw material, we take firm action to enforce against those engaged in the illegal export of contaminated, low quality and unrecyclable plastic wastes.

Compliance with the legislation on waste shipments is monitored by the UK’s four environmental regulators[1]. In England in 2018/19 the Environment Agency inspected almost 1,000 shipping containers at ports and returned over 200 of those to sites. During this period, the Environment Agency also prevented 12,000 tonnes of waste from reaching ports which may have otherwise been exported illegally. Any operators found to be illegally exporting waste can face severe sanctions – from financial penalties to imprisonment for a period of up to two years.

[1] The Environment Agency in England, the Scottish Environment Protection Agency, the Northern Ireland Environment Agency and Natural Resources Wales

Asked on: 08 January 2020
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Plastics
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what progress they have made towards reducing the production of unnecessary plastic and encouraging the development of alternatives to plastic.
Answered on: 22 January 2020

The Government’s Resources and Waste Strategy (RWS) for England, published in December 2018, sets out our plans to reduce, reuse, and recycle more plastic than we do now. Our target is to eliminate all avoidable plastic waste throughout the lifetime of the 25 Year Environment Plan, but for the most problematic plastics we are going faster - that is why we are working towards all plastic packaging placed on the market being recyclable, reusable, or compostable by 2025.

We have already made good progress. The Government’s 5p plastic bag charge has led to a 90% reduction in the use of plastic carrier bags in the main retailers, and last year we consulted on plans to extend the charge to all retailers and on increasing the minimum charge to at least 10p. A summary of responses will be published soon. We have also introduced a world-leading ban on the sale of microbeads in rinse-off personal care products.

In 2019, the Government consulted on a number of key policy measures set out in the RWS: reforming existing packaging waste regulations; exploring the introduction of a deposit return scheme for drinks containers; increasing consistency in the recycling system; and introducing a tax on plastic packaging with less than 30% recycled content. These measures will help reduce the production of unnecessary plastic and encourage the development of alternatives to plastic. In July 2019, the Government published its responses to these consultations; more detailed consultations on these measures will be published this year. As announced in the Queen’s speech the forthcoming Environment Bill will include powers to enable Government to deliver these measures.

The Government has also announced £60 million of funding through the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund, alongside a £150 million investment from industry, towards the development of smart, sustainable plastic packaging, which will aim to make the UK a world-leader in sustainable packaging for consumer products. To better understand some of these new and emerging materials, the Government published a call for evidence on the development of standards for bio-based, biodegradable, and compostable plastics last year. We recognise the role these materials could play in reducing the impact of plastic waste, however we must be wary of unintended consequences. A Government response to this call for evidence will be published in spring.

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