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Abundance of Wildlife Species: Legislative Proposals

Volume 699: debated on Thursday 22 July 2021

If he will bring forward legislative proposals to set a target for the abundance of wildlife species by 2030. (903132)

We have amended the Environment Bill to require a new, historic and legally binding target for species abundance for 2030 to be set, aiming to halt the decline in nature. The details of that target will be set out secondary legislation and the target will be subject to the same requirements as the other long-term legally binding targets set under the Bill.

The UK is among the most nature-depleted countries; half our wildlife has decreased since 1970 and one in seven species is now at risk of extinction. Given a decade of huge cuts, all the rhetoric and the modest uplift in Natural England funding cannot hide the fact that the Government have consistently missed United Nations biodiversity targets. Minister, in order to show leadership and set an example to the rest of the world, should a natural target not be set now, rather than wait, so that we can stop and reverse the decline of nature by 2030?

I hope the hon. Gentleman will agree that the Government are taking this issue really seriously. We are the first Government to set a target such as this, aiming to halt the decline of nature, and indeed recover it by 2030. We are working on the detail of that target. It will be set, along with all the other targets, through the Environment Bill, which will enable us to work together to raise up nature everywhere, and we will be announcing those targets in October 2022.

I have become accustomed to the flurry of press releases from the Department and the long list of initiatives that the Minister has a habit of reciting when questioned about biodiversity and species abundance. Does she agree with the Chair of the Environmental Audit Committee, the right hon. Member for Ludlow (Philip Dunne), when he says:

“Although there are countless Government policies and targets to ‘leave the environment in a better state than we found it’, too often they are grandiose statements lacking teeth and devoid of effective delivery mechanisms”?

So, where is the plan?

I hope the hon. Lady will agree that the plethora of press releases demonstrate just how much work is going on in this Department. We are bringing through groundbreaking legislation that will put in all the measures that we need to tackle these really serious issues. So we have the targets in the Environment Bill and we have a whole range of grants and funds, such as the woodland creation grant and the Nature for Climate peatland restoration grant scheme. They are open now, and people can start applying for them, and we really are moving on this.