I would like to assure you that the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) has robust systems in place to identify the impact of a range of chemicals on the environment and human health and has been working closely with regulators on a co-ordinated programme of work to better assess the presence of PFAS in our natural environment and their sources.
The UK has its own regulatory framework through UK REACH (Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals). As part of the UK REACH Work Programme for 2021-22, the Environment Agency and the Health and Safety Executive have been investigating the risk posed by PFAS through a Regulatory Management Options Analysis to recommend the best approach to manage any identified risks.
Further, Defra has been developing a new and ambitious Chemicals Strategy to set out the Government’s priorities, alongside actions needed to achieve safer and more environmentally sustainable management of chemicals for present and future generations. I understand that it will build on a robust statutory regime, the UK’s international obligations and set out a direction of travel on important policies, including on PFAS. Ministers are continuing to develop the strategic approach to chemicals management and I will continue to follow this issue closely.
Finally, since 2019 the UK has led the Global Ocean Alliance of countries in support of ambitious ocean action within the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), including the adoption of a target to protect at least 30 per cent of the global ocean by 2030 (‘30by30’). Ahead of the COP15 Convention on Biological Diversity in December, the UK is advocating for ambitious global targets to halt and reverse biodiversity loss globally by 2030. This includes, in addition to the ‘30by30’ targets, ensuring that ecosystems are restored, species population sizes are recovering, and extinctions are halted by 2050.