I spoke in support of amendments to the Environment Bill during the debate in the Commons this afternoon. Here’s the text of my speech from the debate:
Thank you very much for the opportunity to take part in this debate. As my hon friend from the front bench said delay for this bill is a terrible message in view of the climate emergency. And now we have left the EU it is vital we maintain the highest environmental standards. But, this Bill replaces the EUs comprehensive protections with targets that the Secretary of state has near discretion on to change at any time.
Which is why the amendments in this group are so important – to seek to maintain the independence of the office of environmental protection; place duties on public authorities to act in accordance with key environmental principles and enhance protections for biodiversity and why we on these benches support them.
Many constituents who have been in touch about amendment 39 in the name of my hon. friend on our front bench which seeks greater transparency on decisions on banned bee and other species killing pesticides. I wanted to say a few words in support not least because the Welsh Government has led the way in its initiatives to make Wales a pollinator friendly nation and Newport Council has also taken up the baton – we are a bee friendly city. These Bee friendly initiatives are hopefully having effect with a population of small scabious bees found in St Julians and the Gwent levels being home to the UK’s rarest bumblebee – the shrill carder bee. And thanks to the Gwent Wildlife Trust and RSPB for their work locally.
We know their importance to the eco system is towering – 90 per cent of the worlds flowering plant species are dependent on insect pollination, and many species are dependent on bees because their food sources rely on pollination. And tragically we know that they in decline with 13 species lost and 35 at risk.
Reasons for the decline are various but also include bee killing insecticides which were rightly banned across the EU in 2018. Although Ministers previously said they would keep restrictions on these pesticides in place, less than three years on we now learn they could now be used to treat sugar beet.
This not only puts pollinator populations at risk but also sets a precedent that ministers can strike out other hard won protections. And we must not allow that to happen.