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Environmental Protection with the Environment, Agriculture and Fisheries Bills

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A large tree standing in a wide open green field.

The Guardian’s environment correspondent today wrote an opinion piece covering our Environment, Agriculture and Fisheries Bills.

We do not agree with her premise that our bills are a threat to our wildlife and natural environment.

Now we have left the EU, we can transform British agriculture to reward farmers for enhancing the environment, tackling climate change and protecting our wildlife for future generations.

We’re clear we will continue to lead the world on the environment and our three landmark Bills will be the cornerstone of the work.

Agriculture Bill

Our Agriculture Bill will replace the Common Agricultural Policy, which the Guardian recognises was “disastrous for wildlife and nature”, with a new Environmental Land Management (ELM) scheme to properly reward farmers for their work to provide ‘public goods’, such as cleaner air and water.

We are now developing ELM with farmers and land managers on the ground so we can harness their ideas. The Guardian also claims erroneously that birds will be at risk. But they are already protected by UK law, the Wildlife and Countryside Act.

Read more about the Agriculture Bill on and the Agriculture Bill’s page on

Environment Bill

The Environment Bill is a vital piece of legislation, setting targets in the four priority areas. This includes a duty to set an ambitious, legally-binding target for fine particulate matter (PM2.5), the most damaging pollutant to human health.

The Guardian acknowledges these targets need time for expert input. This expert input is needed to scrutinise and test the targets, so we get this right, rather than rushing to set targets quickly.

Alongside long-term targets, the article does not mention the Bill obliges government to set five-yearly interim targets and to report annually on whether the natural environment has improved. The new Office for Environmental Protection (OEP) will also provide its own independent annual scrutiny of progress.

Criticism of the OEP’s independence ignores the fact across all the OEP’s work, ministers will not be able to set its programme of activity or improperly influence its decision-making. Furthermore, ministers will be required to protect the OEP’s independence.

The OEP will have the power to undertake its own investigations at its own instigation and will be able to take central Government and public bodies to court for any serious breach of environmental law, if necessary. Our own courts would then be able to issue penalties as they see fit, e.g. fines.

The Environment Bill will also deliver legally binding, long-term water quality target. The Guardian questions the power to update the list of harmful substances. But this this allows us to tackle the most harmful substances in our water based on the latest science.

Read more about the Environment Bill on or the Environment Bill’s page on

Fisheries Bill

The Guardian recognises the Fisheries Bill commits the UK to sustainable fishing and setting legally binding plans to achieve Maximum Sustainable Yield (MSY) for all fish stocks.

But not that we are seeking a fairer share of quota, as a proportion of the existing sustainable catch, not an increase in fishing pressure on fish stocks.

As well as powers to implement new deals negotiated with the EU and other coastal states, set quotas, fishing opportunities and days at sea, the Bill includes new measures for Devolved Governments and a single set of UK-wide fisheries objectives to ensure that fish stocks, and the marine environment, are better protected.

Red more about the Fisheries Bill on or the Fisheries Bill’s page on

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  1. Comment by William Hughes-Games posted on

    ps. Get back to me. Is there actually anyone there

  2. Comment by Ian Malone posted on

    Why do we need to reward farmers ?
    They’ve flooded our roads , silted up our rivers , sold our aquifers , destroyed our rights of way, removed our trees , why reward.
    As for fishing , how do you get MSY with migratory fish , Breeding zones for who ! Can the UK claim Salmon are ours because they were born here. Will Cod ever be allowed to get back to numbers before the industrial revolution.
    Before deals ,dialogue is needed, The fish belong to fishermen , says who ?

  3. Comment by James Moon posted on

    Are we prepared to accept that we will import an increasing amount of food irrespective of cost to their environment and risk a shortage of food in the future. Supply chains are vulnerable to political change ,climatic change or actions by third parties with a vested interest like terrorism ,transport disruption or a weak pound sterling.

  4. Comment by Maureen Hutchison posted on

    Now we have left the EU I pewsume you will be repealing the I.A.S.(Enforcement and Permitting Order)2019, which was enacted solely to conform with EU Regulations