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Climate Change

Volume 688: debated on Thursday 18 January 2007

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What assessment they have made of the response by the Confederation of British Industry and United Kingdom companies to their proposals on climate change controls. [HL1074]

The CBI's director-general has recently highlighted that the business community is serious about playing a full and active role in tackling climate change alongside other key players. The CBI’s new climate change task force will help to encourage the actions necessary to enable business to achieve its contribution. The CBI also supports the Government’s Climate Change Bill and will now work to ensure that the resulting policy framework is effective while ensuring that a healthy and competitive business base is maintained.

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether their present policy of increasing wetlands environmental zones will counter the effects of pollution, incorrect waste disposal and global warming in and near large United Kingdom conurbations. [HL1188]

The Government believe that the creation and restoration of wetlands, especially peatlands, can help reduce the effects of climate change by sequestration of carbon. Further information is available on the Defra website at www.defra.gov.uk/wildlife-countryside/biodiversity/biostrat/index.htm.

The Government are seeking to promote integrated urban drainage. Further information on this is available in Making Space for Water: First Government Response, which is available on the Defra website at www.defra.gov.uk/environ/fcd/policy/strategy.htm. On 15 January, my honourable friend the Minister for Climate Change and Environment announced 15 pilot projects in urban areas to provide the Government with information on the best working arrangements for managing urban flood risk. The pilots are due to be completed by April 2008.

Sustainable urban drainage systems (SUDS) can include in their design small wetlands. They can intercept pollution from storm drains and run-off from hard surfaces, such as roads and car parks. They are an integral part of the pilot projects.

Wetlands, as functioning biological systems, can clean water by a mix of physical and biological mechanisms. Natural wetlands are shallow, permanently flooded or wet marshy ground populated with macroyphytic vascular plants (that is, reeds). Constructed wetlands are now a very widespread and quite well understood form of soft engineering for pollution mitigation. However, the primary function of wetland systems in the UK and Europe is now the provision of biodiversity. Most wetlands are under conservation designation, which may compromise their function to clean water. Many would benefit from clean water entering the system, because pollutants can compromise the biodiversity of the ecosystem.