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From Our MP, John Howell, Dec 2020

From the MP for Henley, John Howell, Dec 2020


So many different issues affect our health and well-being, as individuals and collectively, and we are acutely aware of this in our current circumstances. One of the key issues is our environment. I have been very grateful this year to live in the rural setting that this constituency offers and have been particularly mindful of those who live in over-crowded urban situations. Being able to get out and walk in the countryside has been important to me in keeping fit and well. As I have walked over the months, I have enjoyed watching the changes in the landscape and been perhaps more conscious than in other years of the cycle of work for our farmers.


It is good news that the Agriculture Bill which has been progressing through Parliament this year has now passed into law. During the passage of the Bill some important changes were made particularly to tighten up on issues around the recognition of our farmers in food production and also on food security. I believe that the Act is a good robust piece of legislation that sets the way forward, ensuring that our farmers are not undercut, and that the high quality of our food is maintained. It also sets out how farmers and land managers will be rewarded for the work they do towards protecting and encouraging wildlife, better air and water quality, and measures to reduce flooding. All of this contributes towards achieving the goals of the 25 Year Environment Plan.


I now look forward to the Environment Bill coming back to the House. This Bill is currently at the Committee Stage which is where a cross Party group of MPs scrutinise the Bill line by line. The Committee is due to report back by the beginning of December. The Agriculture Act has a specific focus on farming and land management and as such contributes towards wider environmental issues. The Environment Bill will put the environment at the heart of all policy making ensuring that this and future Governments are held to account on their wider environmental duties. Just as the Agriculture Act set the Trade and Agriculture Commission in statute so the Environment Bill will establish the Office for Environmental protection. This will be an independent regulator which will scrutinise environmental policy and law, investigate complaints and take enforcement action when necessary. The Government’s 25 Year Environment Plan will also be placed on a statutory footing, and a set of environmental principles will be introduced that will be used to guide future government policy making. I know that developing a Nature Recovery Network is important to many. The 25 Year Environment Plan sets a commitment to this and a framework for Local Nature Recovery Strategies will be legislated for the Environment Bill. If you are interested in finding out more about these important pieces of legislation details can be found on the Parliament website. www.parliament.uk


I am aware that this newsletter will appear in December publications. I hope that by then we will be out of lockdown and all able to look forward to a festive break that is something like the normal break we would take at the end of the year. It has been a difficult year in many ways, but I am optimistic that the tide will soon turn thanks to the wonderful work of our scientists who have thrown so much effort at vaccine research. However I know that for many families COVID has taken the most dreadful toll and that loved ones are sorely missed all of the time and will be especially so during festivities. No words can ease that and I offer my deepest sympathies to all of you who face such loss.





If you have an issue that you would like to raise with me, if possible, please email me at john.howell.mp@parliament.uk. If you cannot email you can write to me at the House of Commons, London, SW1 0AA or PO Box 84, Watlington, OX49 5XD.