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Written Statements

Volume 601: debated on Monday 26 October 2015

Written Statements

Monday 26 October 2015

Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

EU Environment Council

I will attend the EU Environment Council in Luxembourg on 26 October.

Following the adoption of the agenda the list of “A” items will be approved.

During the legislative deliberations, there will be a policy debate on the proposal for a directive reforming the EU emissions trading system.

There will be a non-legislative discussion on greening the European semester, with regard to environmentally harmful subsidies and the implementation of environmental legislation. There will also be a discussion following the September UN special summit on sustainable development, which adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Over lunch Ministers will be invited to discuss the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

The following Any Other Business items will be discussed:

1. Recent informal meetings preparing for the Paris climate change summit.

2. The ‘Make it Work’ initiative for better regulation on European environmental policy.

3. Real driving emissions and manipulation of emission control systems in cars, and links to air quality in the EU.

[HCWS270]

Lake District and Yorkshire Dales National Parks

I am today informing the House of my decision taken on Friday 23 October to extend the Lake District and Yorkshire Dales national parks.

These will extend the Yorkshire Dales national park by nearly 24% and the Lake District by 3%, almost joining up the two parks. The extension areas will come into effect in August 2016. The dales and the lakes have some of our country’s finest landscapes, beautiful vistas and exciting wildlife. They are part of our national identity. The designation of these additional areas to the national parks will protect these landscapes for future generations.

By protecting and promoting access to wide swathes of rural England, the parks will provide attractive places to undertake physical activity and environmental volunteering, or simply enjoy the view or tranquillity. This will bring benefits for health and wellbeing and will strengthen the next generation’s connection with nature through activities available for families and children.

Tourism is vitally important to the rural economy, contributing around £11 billion each year. It is also the main driver behind 13% of rural employment and 10% of rural businesses. National parks are an important part of this visitor economy and more than 90 million people visit them each year, helping to boost rural economies.

Over one third of England’s protected foods are produced within the national parks. Since 2010, the number of protected foods in the UK has increased from 40 to 64.

The announcement of the extensions to the national parks builds on my vision for a 25-year environment plan, and is an important part of delivering this Government’s manifesto commitment to protection for natural landscapes to ensure Britain has the best natural environment anywhere.

An additional 188 square miles of land across Cumbria, Yorkshire and a small part of Lancashire will now be protected for future generations following the decision to extend the national parks.

In the Lake District this will include an area from Birkbeck fells common to Whinfell common and an area from Helsington barrows to Sizergh fell, an area north of Sizergh castle and part of the Lyth valley. In the Yorkshire Dales, it will include parts of the Orton Fells, the northern Howgill fells, Wild Boar fell and Mallerstang and Arbon, Middleton, Casterton and Leek Fells, the River Lune, and part of Firbank fell and other fells to the west of the River Lune.

[HCWS271]

Home Department

European Union Opt-in Decisions

The UK has not opted in to the proposal to amend regulation (EC) No 1683/1995 on the uniform format for visas. The Government are committed to ensuring that people coming to the UK do so legally and are taking steps to improve document security. The UK has concerns about the current proposed design and is considering the implications that a new UFV may have on future visa strategy.

The UK has also not opted-in to the proposed Council decision authorising the opening of negotiations with the associated states (Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Switzerland) and Denmark concerning access to Eurodac for law enforcement purposes. This proposal concerns the opening of negotiations. If the negotiations are successful there will be a further Council decision, also subject to the United Kingdom’s Justice and Home Affairs opt-in. At this point we will be able to assess properly any potential benefits to the UK and others, and on that basis consider whether or not to opt-in.

[HCWS269]