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UK Environmental Protections: COP26

Volume 702: debated on Thursday 28 October 2021

Our vanguard Environment Bill demonstrates how much we are doing on that—more than any other country. This will be groundbreaking legislation and as we build back greener from the pandemic it will transform how we protect our environment and will better protect our resources—our air, our water and, of course, our soil.

The Minister will be aware of the policy on biodiversity net gain, which is due to come in in the next couple of years. I and many other Members have been pressing to accelerate the introduction of this wonderful policy. Can the Minister give any update on the Department’s thoughts on whether we can bring forward implementation of biodiversity net gain?

I thank my hon. Friend for his question and his work on this, because it is going to be a very important part of how we increase our protections and protect more nature. We have the target to protect and halt the decline of species abundance by 2030. Local authorities will play a key part in delivering that through their planning services and it is important that we work with them to give them the time to get this under way.

The UK is among the most nature-depleted countries in the world and the decline is not slowing. The Government have made a deliberate decision not to announce any concrete targets to reverse it until October next year, long after COP26, and are instead focusing on cutting the costs of internal flights rather than cutting rail fares. Does the Minister think this undermines the Government’s credibility at the conference this weekend?