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Government's Environmental Agenda

Volume 602: debated on Thursday 19 November 2015

8. What contribution her Department is making to cross-departmental work on the Government’s environmental agenda. (902226)

Ministerial colleagues in DEFRA lead the Government’s environmental agenda overall. My Department leads work to cut carbon emissions, which is essential for protecting our environment for future generations. Working across Departments is essential to deliver our carbon commitments. Let me give two examples: we are cutting emissions, driving innovation and creating jobs through our joint work with the Department for Communities and Local Government on energy efficiency and with the Department for Transport on low emissions vehicles.

To take my right hon. Friend away from the UK, Ascension Island is one of the last refuges for the global stock of large fish, including tuna, marlin and sailfish. With that in mind, will she update me on progress in creating a marine conservation zone around Ascension Island and other British overseas territories?

I thank my hon. Friend for his important question. We are working with overseas territories on their current marine management arrangements to audit them and provide support in addressing gaps. In particular, we are working with the Ascension Island Government to balance their ambition for a sustainable fishery with the development of a marine protected area.

The Secretary of State may know that Cambridge City Council had to cancel plans to put solar panels on 1,000 homes after her changes in policy. What discussions has she had with colleagues in the Department for Communities and Local Government ahead of her abrupt policy changes?

We always work across Government and ensure that everybody is consulted on major changes. The particular issue of solar on public houses will form part of the consultation, and I will be making further announcements in December.

The Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government agreed a city region deal this week for Merseyside without including the tidal and barrage schemes that were part of the bid. It was said that the Department of Energy and Climate Change was pushing back against them. Is that true?

I am afraid I do not have a full answer to give the hon. Gentleman, but I am happy to write to him further when I have an answer.