Oral Answers to Questions

Theresa Villiers Excerpts
Thursday 9th May 2024

(1 month ago)

Commons Chamber
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Steve Barclay Portrait Steve Barclay
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I refer the hon. Gentleman to the £2.4 billion commitment in our manifesto, which has been met in full.

Theresa Villiers Portrait Theresa Villiers (Chipping Barnet) (Con)
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3. What steps his Department is taking to help increase tree planting.

Rebecca Pow Portrait The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Rebecca Pow)
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This Government have put in place the most comprehensive regime ever to increase tree planting. Crucially, it is underpinned by legislation in the Environment Act 2021 and legally binding targets to increase our tree cover to 16.5%, and supported and backed up by our £675 million nature for climate fund. To date, 15 million trees have been planted under this Government, more trees than in any other decade.

Theresa Villiers Portrait Theresa Villiers
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Trees must play a crucial role if we are to meet our commitments on nature recovery and net zero, and they are a tremendous source of happiness, well-being and landscape beauty. To meet the ambitious tree-planting goals that the Government have set, can they streamline the permissions process? Some of the red tape seems disproportionate and in need of regulatory reform.

Rebecca Pow Portrait Rebecca Pow
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I thank my right hon. Friend for the work she has done in her constituency to encourage tree planting, but she is right that the process needs to be fast and simple. We have taken that on board, and the Forestry Commission has recently introduced the woodland creation fast track, aiming to help to decide eligible woodland creation offers within just 12 weeks. To inform that scheme, it has developed a low-sensitivity map of the whole country to show people the best places to plant trees, or where they could think about planting trees, that are not on our best available agricultural land, which is important for food.