Greenpeace joins calls to ban incineration

Jenny’s long standing campaign to stop incineration and raise the alarm over CO2 emissions and local air pollution has been joined by Greenpeace. They have teamed up with Exinction rebellion and UK Without Incinerators to deleiver a 10 point action plan to the PM for a swift shift to a circular economy.

Noting social justice concerns, the action plan stresses that better measures to curb pollution from incinerators are urgently required. It points out that incinerators are “imposed on communities against their will, harming their air quality without their consent” and that these plants “are more likely to be built in poorer areas and in areas with higher racial and ethnic diversity”. Greenpeace data has shown that UK waste incinerators are three times as likely to be located in deprived areas.

Jenny met them at the Big One weekend of protests in London, saying that “Everyone deserves clean air”

A key green party demand is to stop more incinerators being built and for councils to withdraw from the long term contracts that have such a negative impact on recycling rates.

Government defeats on the Energy Bill

The government suffered four defeats on amendments to the Energy Bill in the Lords last night, including one championed by my Green Party collegue Natalie Bennett on community energy. These will now go back to MPs for them to consider and hopefully we will get a few shifts in the government’s position.

The first amendment adds a new clause imposing a duty on the Secretary of State to bring forward a plan within six months of the passage of the act for low carbon heat, energy efficient buildings and higher standards on new homes.

The second adds a new clause requiring the Secretary of State to bring forward regulations to prohibit the opening of new coal mines in England.

The third adds a requirement to have regard for the UK’s net zero emissions target into Ofgem’s general duties.

The fourth amendment requires the Secretary of state to bring forward regulations to require large energy suppliers to purchase electricity from low carbon community sites and provide annual reporting on the use of such schemes

My Anti-corruption Bill

After the success in the Lords of my Clean Air (Human Rights) Bill I’m very happy with the warm cross party support for my new Anti-corruption Bill (thank you Mr Starmer). When adopted it will reverse the damage done by over a decade of corporate lobbying and political donations to the Conservative Party.  

I’ve taken a very modern approach to effective government by adopting similar powers to the Retained EU Laws Bill. The civil service will be asked to compile a register of all laws that have been initiated or influenced by companies lobbying, who gave money to the Conservative Party over the last 14 years. I realise this may well involve thousands of bits of legislation and also the complicated regulatory detail of secondary legislation, which is why it’s important to start the process the day after the election. 

Given the additional burden on the police and civil service of trawling through ex-Ministers’ WhatsApp messages and the guest lists of numerous Conservative Party fundraising events, the list of contaminated legislation may continue growing for several years. That is a lot of corrupt practices for us to examine and make judgements on, which is why the pledge to pass this legislation within the first 100 days is so important – even while the list of laws to be deleted or replaced is still being finalised.

Ministers will need to have the power to assess, reject, amend, or replace all the relevant legislation and regulations passed during the last 13 years. This process can start with the oil and gas industry who donated £3.5m to the Conservative Party last year and funded the election campaigns of various MPs, such as ex chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng. The North Sea licences will all be subject to reassessment as part of the anti-corruption review. The Minister will also be able to enact a tight set of  environmental controls, including a zero carbon requirement for any North Sea extraction. This can all be fast tracked via secondary legislation and without the theatre of parliamentary scrutiny. 

One of the major rewrites of legislation will inevitably be planning rules, as property developers account for around a third of donations to the Conservative party since 2010.  I anticipate that all major housing developments will be required to be net generators of energy through the use of solar panels, heat pumps and  appropriate energy standards. This will help people’s bills and help the planet within a few months of the election, as no separate legislation will be required as this can all be achieved by Ministerial decree, once the anti-corruption bill has passed.

It is anticipated that several other key areas of government can be tackled without clogging up Parliament with a long queue of reforming legislation. For example, the negative influence on the UK’s real economy of the banking and financial sector is well documented and, given they are a major source of donations, Ministers will have scope to rewrite the rules that govern the City of London, especially the lucrative hedge fund industry. 

Unlike the current government I wouldn’t risk the rush of a sunset clause losing laws by default because some email got caught in the junk file. No, you can trust the next government to delete, or replace, only those laws they definitely don’t like. 

There are bound to be complaints about the by-passing of parliamentary democracy whenever Ministers are given such dictatorial powers and I admit that I previously voiced similar reservations. However, I think that those MPs who are not Ministers will welcome having several months off each year to spend more time with their money. 

Our parliamentary traditions and laws are built upon layers of precedent and the Retained EU Law Bill is a foundation on which the far ranging powers in this anti-corruption legislation can be built. The current government are awful and corrupt. I’m sure the next one will only do good things. Fingers crossed. 

PS: Happy April 1st 😉

Lords can stop pre-crime becoming law

The Lords have the ability to stop the government’s “pre-crime” laws in a vote on Monday. The government has proposed late amendments to the Public Order Bill that give the police power to ban protests, or a series of protests, ahead of them being held. It doesn’t matter if the organisers have never been convicted of a crime and what’s planned is non violent, the intention is enough for the police to judge it as illegal, if they feel it will ‘seriously disrupt’ somone’s life. 

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The cost of not going Net Zero

My next oral question is on February 8th, when I ask:

“Baroness Jones of Moulsecoomb to ask His Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the report by the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit (ECIU) Cost of Not Net Zero in 2022, published on 30 December 2022; and in particular, the finding that the delay in switching to renewables and improving energy efficiency resulted in some households paying around £,1750 extra on their bills last year.”

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Police review on slow track as draconian powers accelerate

The government has pushed through more and more draconian powers for the police to use against peaceful protestors. Yet trust in police integrity, standards and culture has never been lower. There are now six police services (including the Metropolitan Police) who are in special measures. Plus the government has launched their own review after numerous scandals have exposed issues with police recruitment and attitudes:

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