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Fertilisers and Ammonium Nitrate Material (Amendment) (EU Exit) Regulations 2021

Volume 809: debated on Tuesday 26 January 2021

Considered in Grand Committee

Moved by

That the Grand Committee do consider the Fertilisers and Ammonium Nitrate Material (Amendment) (EU Exit) Regulations 2021.

My Lords, I declare my farming interests as set out in the register.

This instrument has two main purposes. It makes technical amendments to the Fertilisers and Ammonium Nitrate Material (Amendment) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019, which I will refer to as the exit SI, to correct deficiencies that have arisen in light of the Northern Ireland protocol. It also applies the provisions of the retained EU law version of Regulation (EC) No. 2003/2003 to Northern Ireland, subject to modifications. This will enable the marketing of UK fertilisers in Northern Ireland, which was the original intention of the exit SI before the Northern Ireland protocol was agreed. The exit SI made in 2019 amended the retained version of EU Regulation (EC) No. 2003/2003, so it operates effectively in the UK now, after EU exit. It replaced the “EC fertiliser” label with a new “UK fertiliser” label, which will function in the same way.

The UK fertiliser regime would have operated across the whole of the United Kingdom from the end of the transition period. However, it was made in February 2019, before the Northern Ireland protocol was agreed. As a consequence of the protocol, the EU law version of Regulation (EC) No. 2003/2003 and the EC fertiliser regime it provides for will continue to apply in Northern Ireland, and the UK fertiliser regime provided for in the retained EU law version of this regulation will not. I hope it will be helpful if I say that, to remedy this, this instrument applies the provisions of the retained EU law version of Regulation (EC) No. 2003/2003 in GB to Northern Ireland, subject to modifications, in order to enable UK fertilisers to continue to be marketed in Northern Ireland.

By way of context, the regulatory framework for the manufacture and sale of fertilisers is unusual, compared to other agricultural products, as fertilisers are partially harmonised at EU level. This means that member states can operate their own domestic regulatory regimes alongside the European regulation of the EC fertiliser regime provided for in the EU regulation. Accordingly, alongside the EC fertiliser regime, Great Britain and Northern Ireland have historically operated separate domestic regulatory regimes under the Fertilisers Regulations 1991 and the Fertilisers Regulations (Northern Ireland) 1992, respectively. Manufacturers in both Great Britain and Northern Ireland are free to choose which framework they use to market their products, although they must comply with the requirements of that regime—for example, they would need to be established within the EU or Northern Ireland to sell EC fertilisers in Northern Ireland.

The key provision of this instrument is to ensure that the retained GB version of EU Regulation (EC) No. 2003/2003, which allows products to be marketed as a UK fertiliser, applies in Northern Ireland, as was originally intended in the exit SI made in 2019. Because of the partial harmonisation of fertiliser legislation, making the UK fertiliser regime applicable in Northern Ireland does not affect the continued application of the EU version of Regulation (EC) No. 2003/2003, which will continue to apply in Northern Ireland by virtue of the protocol.

This statutory instrument is important, as a common route to market across the UK for fertilisers is required so that a manufacturer in Great Britain who trades only in the UK can market products across Great Britain and Northern Ireland and use one label to do this. If products labelled as UK fertiliser could no longer be marketed in Northern Ireland, there could be significant costs for businesses in an industry with low profit margins. There are particular concerns that, without this SI, the supply of certain products that are specifically regulated under this regime—for example, DMPSA, a nitrification inhibitor—would reduce, and this could impact on the sustainability of food production. Failure to provide for this may also result in a general reduction in the supply of fertiliser products to Northern Ireland from manufacturers who are established in Great Britain and who are no longer able to place EC fertilisers on the market. It is therefore necessary to ensure that UK fertilisers can be marketed in both Great Britain and in Northern Ireland.

In summary, the technical amendments this instrument makes relating to the Northern Ireland protocol are straightforward. Under the protocol, the EU law version of Regulation (EC) No. 2003/2003 continues to apply in Northern Ireland following the end of the transition period. This instrument reflects its GB application by removing references to Northern Ireland that are no longer relevant from the retained EU law version, such as in the definitions of “appropriate authority” and “enforcement authority”. The remaining provisions in this instrument enable the marketing of UK fertilisers in Northern Ireland.

We worked with the devolved Administrations on this statutory instrument, and they have given their consent. This instrument is necessary because it makes technical amendments in light of the Northern Ireland protocol and will ensure that we can continue to operate a unified fertiliser regime across the UK. I beg to move.

I thank the Minister for providing the Grand Committee with a comprehensive explanation of this SI, which he has given in his normal courteous and lucid manner. As he said, this SI is not particularly controversial, but it is certainly fiendishly complicated in places. I am a great supporter of science having a major role in agriculture, horticulture and associated activities, but it is very important—I know the Minister agrees with me on this—that any such use is carefully monitored because there could be a knock-on effect into the future. I will come back to this point in a moment.

It is our task, as a legislature, to examine SIs and ensure that they match the Executive’s declared intent. The Secondary Legislation Scrutiny Committee looked at this SI on 5 January and decided not to draw it to the attention of the House. That is a fair indication that it contains only what we believed to be there. Therefore, that is a second line of defence, and it gives us some guidance.

There is no impact assessment for this SI because, as stated, it has been judged that

“no significant, impact on the private, voluntary or public sector is foreseen.”

Therefore, in the light of these assurances, I am inclined to accept the SI at face value, but there are a couple of things that I should like to raise with the Minister.

I was reassured that once we get past January 2023 and are dealing with only UK fertilisers, the language used will be English for all fertilisers sold in the UK. It is important that farmers can see how to use the fertilisers and at what levels. May I ask about a small point on that? What is the position in Northern Ireland? I understand that with the Northern Ireland protocol there is some distinction, but is any of the fertiliser which might be shipped from Great Britain to Northern Ireland likely to end up in the Republic of Ireland? If so, how does that affect the labelling?

My last point—I do not think I will take up my full time—is about ammonium nitrate, especially ammonium nitrate fertilisers, which may contain more than 28% nitrogen. I do not want to labour this too much but, bearing in mind the terrible explosion in Beirut, does the Minister feel that sufficient guidance is given in this SI and associated ones about the storage of ammonium nitrate fertilisers, which can have such devastating effects in terms of explosions, as opposed to in their use as fertilisers?

My Lords, I am most grateful to my noble friend for presenting the regulations and his introduction to them. As the noble Lord, Lord Clark, just suggested, they are fiendishly complicated so I hope my noble friend will permit me to ask a couple of questions relating directly to how they will apply and on a couple of other matters relating to fertilisers more broadly.

Looking specifically at paragraph 7.3 of the Explanatory Memorandum, if my understanding is correct, this says clearly—and my noble friend referred to this—that an EU manufacturer must have a manufacturing base in the EU to be able to import into Northern Ireland, whereas a manufacturer in Great Britain will be able to continue to export to Northern Ireland but will have to produce one label for export to Northern Ireland and make separate provision for continuing to export to the rest of the European Union. Could my noble friend confirm that that is the case?

I was contacted by the AIC, which deals in seed and agricultural production. It suggested that there will be a two-year transitional period, during which businesses will be able to continue to manufacture and sell material labelled as an EC fertiliser under Regulation 2003/2003 for use in Great Britain, provided that those products conform to EU standards. Will my noble friend confirm that that is just for a two-year period and what happens at the end of it?

Also, will the UK fertiliser manufacturers hoping to export to the EU and Northern Ireland need to be established within the EU or Northern Ireland, as I mentioned, and will products have to be labelled accordingly with the EU-established manufacturer or importer as appropriate? Presumably that will be an additional cost to the UK fertiliser manufacturer. I ask because paragraph 3.1 of the Explanatory Memorandum clearly states that there should be not so much no increased costs, but no increased obligations on businesses. However, there would certainly seem to be the cost of producing these labels.

I have two rather more technical points. Detonation-resistance testing for the production and importation of high-concentration ammonium nitrate is a legal requirement, but this is now limited to a single UK-based laboratory, which apparently lacks the capacity to meet demand. The nature of the product additionally limits its easy transport between countries by courier. There is, I understand, a current derogation of two years to allow European-sourced ammonium nitrate to continue to be tested in EU accredited laboratories. Clearly this derogation must be extended to allow testing in any accredited ISO laboratory.

Finally, the UK now has oversight of its trade remedies through its countermeasures policy. Presumably our Trade Remedies Authority, when it is up and running, will be in charge of this. The application to the UK of existing trade remedies on urea ammonium nitrate from the USA, Russia and Trinidad and Tobago is due to terminate, so urea ammonium nitrate will not be subject to the EU-imposed anti-dumping duties, though I gather that the anti-dumping duty on ammonium nitrate from Russia will still apply. I understand that these latter two points probably go broader than Defra, but I would be keen for my noble friend to write to me for our better understanding of how this applies to these regulations, particularly for those volatile products to which the noble Lord, Lord Clark, referred.

With those comments, I am delighted to consider the SI this afternoon and look forward to hearing my noble friend’s response.

I too thank the Minister for setting out clearly and in detail the purpose of these regulations and their application in Northern Ireland. I shall preface detailed consideration of the regulations with a couple of general remarks, which I am sure the Committee will understand.

While these regulations are highly technical, they are another piece of the jigsaw of legislation required purely as a result of the Northern Ireland protocol. They amend previous regulations which, as the Minister said, applied to the whole of the United Kingdom and were passed to take care of the situation in the event of a no-deal exit from the European Union. I remind noble Lords that many of us find the need for this kind of legislation—amending legislation that applies to the whole of the UK and making specific provision for Northern Ireland—deeply objectionable in principle, to put it mildly. It is having to be done to implement a protocol over which no one in Northern Ireland had any say or any vote. It is important to make that point over and over again on these regulations because they are important. Laws will be made in this Parliament of ours that will, effectively, mean that new regulations, in this and many other areas, can be made in Brussels. They will then come into force in Northern Ireland without anyone at Westminster or Stormont, in the Northern Ireland Assembly, having any input or vote on them. That is a bizarre and unacceptable way of making laws for part of the United Kingdom. It is certainly not taking back control.

Turning to the detail, these regulations do two things. First, they allow for the continued application in Northern Ireland of the European regulation on the EC fertiliser regime. Secondly, since under EU law there can, as the Minister said, be a dual regime for fertilisers, they enable UK fertilisers, so labelled, to be marketed in Northern Ireland. This part of the statutory instrument is very welcome—there will be a UK-wide regulatory regime for the marketing of UK fertilisers and it means that manufacturers in Great Britain can market their products across the United Kingdom, both in Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Of course, EC fertilisers can still be marketed in Northern Ireland alongside that.

I note that the devolved Administrations have been consulted and have consented to the making of the instrument. I further understand, having made some investigation in the matter, that officials are currently preparing an implementing instrument that will fully implement in Northern Ireland the provisions of the UK retained law to allow for both the manufacture and marketing of UK fertilisers in Northern Ireland.

I close by asking the Minister, given the degree of consensus on this instrument, and on a more general but relevant note, whether he anticipates being able to obviate and alleviate some of the difficulties. I put that mildly—there are really difficult consequences concerning movement of agriculture-related products between Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Can he give some reassurance that producers and consumers will get some relief from some of the current problems in moving such goods from Great Britain to Northern Ireland?

The situation since 1 January has, as noble Lords will know, caused considerable consternation to many, and extra cost and hardship. One reason the Minister gave for advocating these regulations was that they would save costs and keep products on the market in Northern Ireland. That should apply right across the board, so I would be grateful if the Government would commit to doing everything in their power to overcome the current obstructions and restrictions and permit unfettered trade between Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

My Lords, I thank the Minister for his clear explanation of this SI. I have three brief sets of points to make. Given that the SI is about the management of fertilisers and ammonium nitrate material, an intensely environmental issue, I hope the Committee will forgive me if I take a minute to reflect on this morning’s news about the delay of many months to the Environment Bill. My inbox is full of expressions of fury and disbelief. When we are the chair of COP 26, this can be described only as very depressing and embarrassing. There is a huge legislative lacuna, a gaping gap in UK law, and it sends a message about the importance with which the Government regard environmental issues in this hugely nature-depleted, polluted and contaminated land. Work on the Bill began in July 2018. We will potentially go into the biodiversity COP in October without that law, and it may even be a scrape to get it in before COP 26 itself starts.

I have two questions for the Minister, although I understand that he may not be able to answer them now. What will happen with the Office for Environmental Protection and what will happen about giving farmers certainty about applying the fertilisers we are talking about now, in terms of environmental land management schemes? My second question concerns the fact that we are now discussing artificial fertilisers. The Committee may remember my interest in soil science, so I hope Members will give me for venturing a little into that.

There was an old Italian proverb in the 1930s that said that artificial fertiliser was “good for the father and bad for the son”. That was about the environmental damage—the level of soil damage—done by artificial fertilisers. Having just come out of the Oxford Real Farming Conference and heard lots of excellent things about soil, and having seen reports from its companion, the Oxford Farming Conference, there is increasing understanding of the impact of nitrogen fertilisers, not just on the climate emergency—nitrous oxide has 298 times the global warming potential of carbon dioxide and stays in the atmosphere for an average of 114 years—but also on soil structure. In healthy soils, with low levels of nitrogen, one sees that microbes do not metabolise carbon compounds but instead excrete them as polymers that act as a glue holding the soil together. Of course, we are seeing, with the floods around the UK now, some of the huge damage that the loss of soils can do, when we do not have that soil structure.

I come to a specific point about this SI, and I follow the point made by the noble Baroness, Lady McIntosh of Pickering, who, with her customary depth and grasp of detail, asked some detailed and important questions. I particularly pick up the point she raised about paragraph 7.3 in the Explanatory Memorandum, which says:

“Manufacturers who currently market ‘EC fertilisers’ in Great Britain and in Northern Ireland will need to be established in the EU to continue to market ‘EC fertilisers’ in Northern Ireland”.

This seems to be a pattern we often see, so what advice are the Government giving potential or current manufacturers? Are people being told to take their business out of the UK and to set up in the EU? Have the Government made any assessment of the economic and job impacts in this industry and more broadly?

I want to raise a related point with the Minister; I would be happy to share the source with him later. There is a report from the Belfast News Letter which reflects some of the questions of the noble Lord, Lord Dodds. It is about peat and it quotes Robin Mercer from the Hillmount Garden Centre, who said that it is

“now illegal to import a plant which contains on its roots any soil or bark-based peat-free compost”,

but legal to import, albeit with lots of paperwork, plants that are contained within peat. I am sure the Minister is well aware of the issues around peat and the need to move away from peat-based compost. Will he look into this and see whether there is any way to ensure that we are not encouraging, through this and other statutory instruments relating to the end of the Brexit transition period, environmental damage through agricultural practices?

My Lords, it is a pleasure to follow the noble Baroness, Lady Bennett of Manor Castle, and I too thank the Minister for his detailed and comprehensive explanation of these regulations, which are a direct result of the UK leaving the European Union—that is the plain and simple fact. I have several questions for the Minister. If he cannot provide answers today, I will be content to get them in writing.

Like the noble Lord, Lord Dodds, I have a concern about unfettered access for imports from Britain to Northern Ireland. I fully recognise that the protocol has to be fully implemented, so what work are the UK Government carrying out with the EU and the Northern Ireland Executive, plus Assembly, to ensure that there are no further wrinkles or problems to be encountered by importers or local businesses in Northern Ireland? That will simply add further costs and burdens for many retailers and consumers. What will be the exact role of the Northern Ireland Executive and DAERA in overseeing the implementation of the regulations?

A Defra consultation document on reducing ammonia emissions from solid urea fertilisers, published in November 2020, is due to be concluded today—26 January. Have there been many responses? How does it fit into this statutory instrument? Will there be further legislation as a result of this document and any ensuing measures? Will an amending SI be needed? I would be grateful if the Minister could clarify this further.

The consultation document sought views on proposals designed to reduce ammonia emissions, 87% of which come from UK agriculture. As the noble Baroness, Lady Bennett, has already said, this is good because it will protect the soil and our environment, specifically from the use of solid urea fertilisers.

It recommends three options: a ban on solid urea fertilisers, which the Government favour; a requirement to stabilise solid urea fertilisers; and a requirement to restrict their spreading to a two-month window from 15 January to 31 March each year. Can the Minister update the Committee? Is the SI just a temporary measure to be followed by amending legislation to reflect the recommendations, including a possible ban? Or does this intersection with the Northern Ireland protocol cut across all this and ensure that it will not happen?

Finally, with the protocol in place, what will be the position in Northern Ireland regarding reducing urea fertilisers? I presume this will be an issue for DAERA and the Northern Ireland Executive. I look forward to the Minister’s answers.

My Lords, I thank the Minister for his introduction and for his time and that of his officials in providing a briefing on this statutory instrument. I share the dismay of the noble Baroness, Lady Bennett, about the Environment Bill and agree with many of her comments.

Our farming and horticulture sectors have come to rely on fertilisers to ensure that their businesses thrive. However, many of the chemicals contained in fertilisers do not improve soil quality—quite the opposite. The Government rightly set great store by not only improving soil quality but preventing runoff from land, which can carry topsoil away.

As I understand it, this SI has two parts: one relates only to the Northern Ireland protocol—as the original SI was implemented in February 2019, before the protocol was in place—and the other to labelling. Again, if I have understood it correctly, the “UK fertiliser” label can be used in Northern Ireland. However, as the noble Baroness, Lady McIntosh of Pickering, said, producers who do not currently trade with the EU and are based in the UK cannot use the same label.

I understand that the Agriculture Act now allows the UK to set a different set of standards for fertilisers from those being used in the EU. Are these differing standards stricter in the UK than in the EU, or are the EU ones tighter?

I am aware that a radical review of fertilisers is being undertaken both in the EU and the UK. The UK review is an ambitious programme to change and modernise the use of fertilisers. How long with this review take and when will its findings be published? Is it likely to be completed before the end of July this year?

I note that the devolved Administrations have been consulted on this SI. Are they also to be consulted on the ongoing review of the use and type of fertilisers? It will be important to harmonise fertiliser use across the country and not have different practices in different devolved Administrations. The noble Lord, Lord Dodds, referred to the lack of consultation and agreement with Northern Ireland. This is unacceptable.

Widening the subject, I am encouraged that some of our waste will be recycled into soil enhancers. Can the Minister say more about plastics contamination in waste products which are to be used in this way? Like him, I am in favour of a circular economy, and delighted that we may be able to use our waste from both recycled green, on-farm composting and from water boards as soil enhancers and improvers. However, antibiotics from water board waste are entering the soil. In the past, the overuse of antibiotics has been widespread in the treatment of both human and animal diseases. Can the Minister reassure the Committee that the level of antibiotics in the soil improvers will be closely monitored?

Overall, I am happy to support this SI. As other noble Lords have said, it is very complex. I look forward to the Minister’s response to the questions which I and others have posed.

My Lords, I thank the Minister for his introduction and for the helpful briefing beforehand. As noble Lords have said, this is a hugely complicated issue. We accept that this SI in its current form is necessary to ensure that the marketing and trade of fertilisers with Northern Ireland can continue effectively in the short term.

We accept that it is important that UK manufacturers can trade products across GB and Northern Ireland using the same label. Can the Minister clarify that the existing regulatory standards will remain the same in GB and Northern Ireland? Can he also update the Committee on the checks currently taking place on the Northern Ireland border? We all have some sympathy with the points made by the noble Lord, Lord Dodds, and the noble Baroness, Lady Ritchie, about the problems occurring on the Northern Ireland border. I hope the Minister can assure us that urgent action is being taken to iron out some of the blocks and complexities at the border and that these will be resolved in short order.

The Minister has explained that we are in a period of transition regarding controls over future fertiliser policy and that a consultation is being drawn up. Although it goes beyond the scope of this SI, we would welcome such a review and an opportunity to ensure that the regulations are fit for purpose. As the noble Baroness, Lady Bennett, and other noble Lords have said, there is clearly potential for modernisation, based on the best science available, together with a greater understanding of the need to protect and enhance our soils. Can the Minister reassure us that any new proposals will maintain our commitment to the precautionary principle and to our high environmental standards?

As this is the first SI with which I have been concerned since the trade and co-operation agreement was signed in December, I wonder if the Minister can help me on a couple of other issues. Can he say how that detailed agreement will be dealt with going forward? Will it require us to revisit many of the SIs that we have already agreed? As noble Lords know, the trade and co-operation agreement is a very long document. Will its content have to be broken down in due course into primary and secondary legislation? In other words, will we have to go into the detail of this agreement at some point or will it be signed off as a whole? We are interested in the Defra elements, but it has a much wider spread. We would appreciate it if the Minister could help us regarding the state of that document, and I look forward to his response.

My Lords, I am most grateful to all noble Lords for a compelling debate. I agree with the Lord, Lord Clark of Windermere, that it is complicated and intricate.

Clearly, we are dealing with materials that we need to treat extremely cautiously, so I wanted to take the opportunity to address the safety of ammonium nitrate and its storage. Ammonium nitrate is classed by the Government as a controlled good, which means that there are extremely strict rules on its handling in GB. Its import and handling are covered by the Ammonium Nitrate Materials (High Nitrogen Content) Safety Regulations 2020.

The noble Lord also asked about fertiliser shipped from GB to Northern Ireland and labelling, if it were to end up in the Republic. We have updated the published guidance to reflect the changes and new actions needed to market fertilisers in GB, Northern Ireland and Europe from 1 January this year, and circulated the changes to industry before publication. The Agricultural Industries Confederation published guidance for its members based on our updated GOV.UK guidance. On this basis, there is clarity over labelling and where fertilising products can be sold.

The noble Baronesses, Lady Bennett and Lady Bakewell, raised environmental issues. Again, I should like to address a key point. In having fertilisers to enhance agricultural production, feed the nation and feed the world, we need to be extremely conscious of the environmental issues. Although it is essential to maintain and, wherever we can, increase yields for both food and non-food use, fertilisers can have a significant negative impact on air quality, water quality and emissions, as well as habitats and soils.

That is why the Government are very clear about the need to uphold high standards now that we have left. This will be reflected in any new regulatory regime for fertilisers introduced under the new powers included in the Agriculture Act 2020. The powers in the Act allow for the establishment of an assessment, monitoring and enforcement regime to ensure fertilisers’ compliance with composition, content and function requirements that will be set out in regulations, and for otherwise mitigating risks to human, animal or plant health or the environment presented by fertilisers. I absolutely recognise the dynamics of what we need to do and that, as has been said, the careful monitoring of fertilisers’ use is well known by those who will use them.

My noble friend Lady McIntosh mentioned cost. The whole purpose of the GB, Northern Ireland and UK fertiliser label was to minimise manufacturing costs. She mentioned, as I have, the Agricultural Industries Confederation. It is very much aware of and content with the provisions of the original exit SI that created the UK fertiliser label. As I said, the policy objective of this SI is to maintain that common route to market across the UK in the light of the Northern Ireland protocol.

I am also very conscious of what the noble Baroness, Lady Ritchie of Downpatrick, and the noble Lord, Lord Dodds, said about the difficulties. That is why not just Defra but the Government as a collective are doing everything we can, case by case, in the Defra areas and beyond, to work with producers, hauliers and Governments to ensure that these issues are resolved company by company. I know, as will noble Lords, from the work we have done on many Northern Ireland regulations over time, of the very strong relationship that Defra has with DAERA. I register for all noble Lords, particularly those from Northern Ireland, that I am acutely aware of some of the difficulties. Yes, we want a smooth passage of trade, but we need to recognise —as we do—that there are requirements because of the protocol. We seek to ensure a pragmatic approach within the principles of the protocol so that businesses in all parts of the United Kingdom can thrive and consumers get the goods that they need and get them speedily.

The noble Baroness, Lady Jones of Whitchurch, mentioned the importance of UK standards and asked about any differences with what may be EU standards. At the moment, the retained UK fertiliser regime will adopt the same standards as the EU. That is our position. The EU is implementing a new fertiliser products regulation to improve standards, and this new law will become fully operational in July 2022. As I mentioned, we have taken powers under the Agriculture Act to ensure that we, too, can modernise our domestic system and improve standards in fertiliser regulation.

As the noble Baroness, Lady Ritchie, mentioned, there is a consultation on urea fertiliser that will close today. We launched a consultation on reducing ammonia emissions from the use of solid urea fertilisers because ammonia emissions are harmful to sensitive habitats as well as to human health, with 87% of ammonia emissions coming from farming. We need to address that, and the farming industry is very conscious of it. I do not have any further detail, I am afraid, because the consultation closed today.

My noble friend Lady McIntosh raised a point on labelling. This SI will implement a unifying label for the UK. Both Northern Ireland and GB can trade under EU regulation as long as they comply with those requirements.

On any new system of assessment under the regulations, raised by the noble Baroness, Lady Bakewell, and others, we have already started moving towards adopting conformity assessment for fertilisers, a risk-based system commonly used for manufactured products. This means that we can use appropriate testing standards depending on the risk posed to the consumer and the environment. It offers regulatory assurance for consumers that fertilisers deliver the nutrient efficiency claimed by manufacturers, but also allows us to set limits for contaminants, such as plastics, in organic products. This will ensure that products not currently regulated, such as soil improvers, will be safe for the consumer and the environment. It should stimulate both demand and development for less polluting types of fertilisers, such as biostimulants.

I also say to the noble Baroness, Lady Bennett, that we will use every opportunity we can in a new Session of Parliament to get the Environment Bill before your Lordships as soon as possible. We will be working to reduce peat. I will take that away and work on all other points that were made. As I said, the role of DAERA is extremely important, and it will be for the Northern Ireland Administration to work on these matters, but we will co-operate on matters such as the reduction of use of urea.

I fear my Whip is sending me a message that means I may have gone beyond the time allocated, but noble Lords raised some very important points. I will write fully on some of the more detailed points but, in the meantime, I commend the regulations. They are important for the whole purpose of what we want to do within the United Kingdom and working with our Northern Ireland colleagues.

Motion agreed.

Sitting suspended.