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Global Food Security

Volume 728: debated on Thursday 23 February 2023

The Government are supporting Ukraine, the breadbasket of Europe, to export grain to countries most in need, including contributing £5 million to President Zelensky’s Grain from Ukraine initiative. The Government are also focused on the long-term drivers of global food insecurity, including climate change and biodiversity loss. We are supporting international programmes to improve the sustainability and resilience of global food systems.

The best form of food security is to grow more of our own food. Lincolnshire is the breadbasket of England, so it makes no sense that there are planning proposals to cover 10,000 acres of my constituency of Gainsborough with solar panels. We are all in favour of solar panels, but there are millions of acres of flat warehouse roofs they could go on. Will the Minister change the planning guidelines so that there is a presumption against building solar panels on 3b as well as 3a land? In reality, there is no difference in growing good wheat and barley between 3a and 3b land.

My right hon. Friend will be aware that the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities is responsible for planning. The best and most versatile land is defined as land in grades 1, 2 and 3a of the agricultural land classification, and the national planning policy framework sets out that local planning authorities should consider all the benefits of the best and most versatile land when making plans and decisions on development proposals. Where significant development of agricultural land is shown to be necessary, they should seek to use poorer-quality land in preference to higher-quality land.

Of course. We continue to work closely with the Animal and Plant Health Agency and Government Veterinary Services to monitor this. We are working with the sector to make sure we have the best biosecurity available. There has been a fantastic response from the sector to improve its biosecurity, but we continue to face the challenge of avian influenza. The long-term solution to the challenge is a vaccine, which is not currently available, but we will give all the support we can to the scientific sector to try to develop such a vaccine.