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 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.

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