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Ecology Bill [HL]

Volume 829: debated on Friday 21 April 2023

Third Reading

Clause 3: Financial provisions


Moved by

Leave out Clause 3

My Lords, this is a simple tidying-up amendment to remove a financial provision that should have been removed in Committee. I beg to move.

Amendment agreed.


Moved by

My Lords, this is a simple Bill. It started off with far more clauses, but we removed most of them to allow just one simple provision: to reverse the catastrophic decline we are seeing in nature in the UK. The UK is one of the most naturally depleted countries in the world, which is quite surprising considering how little is being done to look at how we are going to reverse that.

I was very much hoping that, because we have made this such a simple measure, the Government could take this and add it to many of their policies going forward. In Committee, it was clear that the Government do not see this as something they are going to take forward. I hope they will change their mind when it is picked up in the Commons, and that there will be a damascene moment where it is given government time and moves forward. I am not sure that the Minister is going to give me some assurance on that basis.

I thank all those who have taken part in debates on the Bill. I particularly thank the people at Zero Hour, who have done so much work to raise the issue, and their supporters, in particular Mr Ron Bailey, a seasoned campaigner who has brought so many of these Bills before Parliament. On that basis, I beg to move that this Bill do now pass.

I will say only a very few brief words. Clearly, reversing biodiversity decline is extremely important, and we have had useful debates around the Bill, which clearly has been on a bit of a journey. I wish it luck for its passage in the other place and I am sure that we will see it again at some point.

My Lords, I pay huge tribute to the noble Lord, Lord Redesdale, for tabling this Private Member’s Bill and for the passion, knowledge and understanding of this issue that he brings to the House. As he says, this is a crucial issue, and I am glad that throughout the Bill’s passage we have had the opportunity to debate and discuss it. I know that noble Lords will agree with me when I say that tackling the twin challenges of biodiversity loss and climate change is of the utmost importance.

I will not repeat the discussion we had at Second Reading and in Committee, but I will emphasise the action that the Government have taken since the last time we discussed the Bill. In England, we have now set four legally binding targets for biodiversity. By 2030 we have committed to halt the decline in species abundance and by 2042 we aim to reverse species decline, to reduce the risk of species extinction, and to restore or create more than 500,000 hectares of wildlife-rich habitats.

We have set out our plan to deliver on these ambitious targets, along with other environmental targets, in the revised environmental improvement plan, published on 31 January. Here we link the different objectives, plans and mechanisms for recovering nature. The environmental improvement plan also includes short-term interim targets in addition to those long-term targets. This overall suite of targets will ensure that the policies, actions and commitments in the plan are collectively driving progress towards our ultimate goal of leaving the environment in a better place than we found it. Additionally, the plan matches the ambition agreed internationally in the new global deal for nature at the UN nature summit COP 15 in December.

I thank the noble Lord again for bringing the Bill to the House and for enabling this debate, but I hope that noble Lords are reassured that biodiversity is an absolute priority for the Government and that action is being taken and will continue to be taken.

My Lords, I thank the Minister for his reply; I know that he has a personal passion for this area and brings a great deal of knowledge to the department. I do question whether the 2042 target is far too far away. However, on the basis of his reassurance, I commend the Bill to the House.

Bill passed and sent to the Commons.