Environment

I firmly believe in protecting both the UK's vibrant ecosystem and the natural environment worldwide. Environmental and economic progress are not just compatible: they depend on each other. The Government is committed to being the UK's greenest ever, and has established a 25-Year Plan to Improve the Environment to help achieve this goal.

Carbon emissions have fallen by 6 percent since 2010 contributing to a 27 per cent reduction since 1990. Britain's share of electricity generated from renewables has doubled since 2009 and Ministers are determined to ensure we become a world leader in the new green economy.

Between 2010 and 2015 Ministers provided £7.5 million to establish 12 Nature Improvement Areas, created 150,000 acres of priority habitats and planted over 11 million trees; they are now committed to planting 11 million more. The National Pollinator Strategy will improve our understanding of the abundance, diversity and role of pollinators, and identify any additional actions needed to protect them.

Fifty Marine Conservation Zones have been created to help protect our rich marine life, joining the UK's over 500 existing marine protected areas, and a further 41 have since been announced. A new UK Blue Belt of protected sites is now being created in British waters and around the UK's 14 Overseas Territories where there is local support and environmental need.

The decision to leave the European Union has created an historic opportunity to review our environmental policies. Outside the EU we can develop global gold standard environmental policies, not just to halt or slow environmental deterioration, but to raise our ambitions, restoring nature and reversing decline. We can, and I believe we will, be the first generation to leave the environment in a better state than we inherited it.

I have always been clear on the need to ensure that our environment is protected after we leave the EU. Our natural environment is precious and fragile and I believe that we must do everything we can to ensure that it is properly managed.

The EU (Withdrawal) Act converts all EU environmental law into UK law when we leave the Union next year. The manifesto on which I and all Conservative MPs were elected last year also promised that we should be the 'first generation to leave the environment in a better state than we inherited it in.'

A consultation was launched on environmental principles and governance earlier this year and it proposed a new Environmental Principles and Governance Bill to ensure that environmental principles, such as the 'polluter pays' and the 'precautionary principle' are embedded into UK law. The Bill would also create a world-leading, independent environmental watchdog to hold the Government to account. The consultation closed on 2 August 2018 and the Government is now analysing the feedback.

No decisions have yet been taken on the UK's future relationship with EU agencies including with the European Environment Agency. This is a matter for the negotiations.