• A Green Brexit / Customs Bill

    Mid Devon Advertiser
    26 January 2018

    A Green Brexit

    I am often asked about what our environmental policy will be after we leave the EU. Will standards be maintained? After all the EU has been no slouch in tackling environmental issues. The answer is ‘yes’ - in fact we expect to be able to look to standards that represent an improvement on the current regime. This matters not least because we want to leave a better world to those who follow us. The challenge is significant. There have been big improvements – from action to tackle CO2 emissions, the CFCs that damage the ozone layer and the Sulphur Dioxide which produces acid rain. The establishment of a Blue Belt of marine protected areas where fish can recover their numbers. Steps to halt the ivory trade which threatens the African elephant. But despite all this there remains much to do. We have oceans blighted with plastics and pressures on many wildlife habitats. So we plan to extend the plastic bag charge from large retailers to all retailers. The current policy has reduced their use by a whopping 85%. So, if you are wondering why there are less bags lying around in our green spaces and town centres or trapped up in the branches of trees then this is probably the reason. We have also launched a Clean Growth Strategy which sets out how we are going to clean our oceans and continue to combat global warming. Part of this approach will include ensuring that we improve the resilience of our infrastructure, housing and natural environment. We will build more homes but we will ensure that a key principle will be that development should result in net environmental gain rather than detriment. Our farmers will play their part. There are few that care more about the environment than farmers and our new agricultural schemes post Brexit will focus heavily on environmental enhancement. We have announced a new northern forest to stretch 120 miles along the route of the M62 with the planting of 50 million tress.  Beyond our coastline our departure from the EU gives us an opportunity to take back the administration of our fishing waters. The replenish our fishing stocks. This we will do with vigour. In short we will use our departure from the EU as an opportunity to do more not less for the environment.

    Customs Bill

    Last week I was busy in the Commons taking the legislation that will allow us to set up our own standalone customs regime after we leave the EU. Making sure our goods keep moving from the first day of our departure. This is the stage of the bill when we have line by line scrutiny. Amendments and new clauses are tabled typically by the opposition and these are then debated and in many cases voted upon. Once the bill emerges from committee it will return to the floor of the House where I will take it through its final stages. Follow Mel at and on twitter @meljstride