AS I write the Withdrawal Bill (the legislation required to leave the EU) is due to be laid in Parliament.

As ever, I continue to support the Prime Minister to deliver Brexit with a deal (having previously voted three times for the deal) and am always mindful that the views of the 52% who voted to leave must be respected whilst not alienating the 48% who did not, so that we forge a new future together.

Aside from Brexit, the environment is a key focus. This was highlighted on Friday when I met with a passionate group of ‘Climate Warriors’ at Thurlbear Primary School in Taunton (where I used to be a governor).

Pupils are actively trying to reduce their impact on the planet, with increased recycling, using refillable water bottles and reducing packaging.

I was delighted to give assurances that this Government has the environment at the top of the agenda, as demonstrated by the forthcoming Environment Bill, a landmark piece of legislation that will change the way we protect and enhance our environment.

As the Environment Minister, I am responsible for bringing this legislation through Parliament and into law.

Having campaigned on the environment and worked on this agenda for most of my life (in business and as a journalist and broadcaster) to be responsible for this transformative legislation means a great deal and I sincerely hope the bill will receive the support it deserves from all parties.

As I have said so many times in Parliament, this really is bigger than Brexit.

The legislation sets legally binding targets to achieve environmental improvements in air quality, water, waste and recycling and nature.

Measures will include introducing a deposit return scheme for drinks containers; tackling single use plastics; and adding 10% biodiversity gain to all developments.

A new Office for Environmental Protection will be established to scrutinise environmental policy and law, as well as investigate complaints and take enforcement action against public authorities, to uphold our environmental standards.

The office’s powers will oversee all climate change legislation and hold the government to account on its commitment to reach net zero emissions by 2050. The new office will be based in Bristol.

MP for Taunton Deane