Defra Secretary of State Caroline Spelman outlined to Parliament some of the key priorities facing the department yesterday and reaffirmed the Government’s pledge to be the greenest in UK history.
The Secretary of State was addressing MPs at the end of a Queens Speech debate on Energy and Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. The debate was opened by Chris Huhne, Secretary of State at the Department for Energy and Climate Change.
Commenting on the Energy Bill contained in the Queen’s Speech, the Defra Secretary of State said that it “clearly demonstrates the commitment to be the greenest Government in the country’s history.”
“For the first time, we are developing an integrated strategy across Government, and across the public, private and third sectors, to tackle the loss of biodiversity, address the way that we use resources, adapt to climate change and grow a greener economy that provides the clean, green jobs and industries of the future.”
The Secretary of State praised the work of her predecessor and said the work of the previous Government would be continued to implement the Marine and Coastal Access Act, support the new South Downs National Park and support Lundy Island as the first marine conservation zone.
She also remarked that “there will be continuity on important matters such as illegal logging, fishing and whaling”, and listed a number of priorities for Defra, saying:
- “We are absolutely committed to reversing the trend in the reduction in biodiversity.”
- “On the question of dangerous dogs, I give the commitment that we will tackle the conduct of their owners and require greater responsibility from them.”
- “Coastal erosion is an issue that I will certainly treat as a priority in my Department.”
- “We are particularly keen to support community-led broadband in rural areas.”
- “All Departments are going to have to think about how they can drive down their carbon footprints and contribute to the new green economy.”
- Defra will be seeking “genuine reform of the common agricultural policy, to ensure that it reflects this Government’s fourfold approach to good value for farmers, taxpayers, consumers and the environment alike”
- “We will maintain an increase in the money that taxpayers spend on flood defences this year, with no impact on the number of households that we protect.”
She also used the speech to outline the many national and global issues on which our future depends, and pledged to put them at the heart of the Government’s strategy for economic growth to deliver the green jobs, green technologies and greener economy that we must have to achieve and ensure a secure and sustainable future.
On recycling and energy efficiency in the home, the Secretary of State said:
“For too long, families have been exhorted to do their bit to drive down greenhouse gas emissions without being offered any support to do so. ‘Pay as you save’, a central part of this Government’s green deal, will directly help householders to benefit from greater energy efficiency, saving money and cutting emissions.”
The full text of the speech is available.