Crucial vote in Lords on new environmental enforcement agency

Tomorrow is a crucial day in the ​House of ​Lords for environmentalists. I ​shall be backing an amendment to the EU Withdr​awal Bill to ensure that the government’s ​promised new enforcement agency will not reduce any of “the rights, powers, liabilities, obligations, restrictions, remedies and proceedures that contribute to the protection and improvement of the environment.” 

​The amendment​ also outlines a timetable for consulting upon and establishing this independent new body, along with appointing its chair and funding it.

We need a UK enforcement agency (with arrangements agreed by the devolved administrations) that is capable of taking over the role of the European Commission. The government’s proposal​,​ which they published ahead of this Lords’ debate, fails several of the crucial tests, but they are hoping it will be enough to avoid another defeat.

​According to the government’s bill, t​he new body will not be able to initiate legal action and​ will have no legal obligation to operate the current environmental principles such as the precautionary principle and polluter pays. By contrast, the amendment lays out all of the existing environmental principles, including animal sentience.

For ​Greens, this could become the most positive vote the Lords has taken. The amendment is just one step on the way ​towards creating a world-leading environmental enforcement agency that will protect our food and animal welfare standards​.

 

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Frackers on your doorstep are bad for your health

I have asked the government for new ‘set back’ regulations to stop fracking sites being placed outside the front gate of people’s homes (see photo of homes near fracking drill site, Westby, Fylde, Lancashire). A North Yorkshire Planning Inspector has suggested a minimum 500m limit and I imagine they were as shocked as I was to discover that the government hadn’t bothered with such an obvious public health measure. Continue reading “Frackers on your doorstep are bad for your health”

Lords can defeat government on EU rules

This is a busy week in the Lords as we have the chance to defeat the government on some key amendments to the EU Withdrawal Bill which retain crucial environmental principles. I’m hoping for lots of votes. The Labour and Lib Dem whips mustn’t skip over anything crucial because they are worried about the Lords over stepping its role. If something is wrong with the legislation, then we need to say so. 

Continue reading “Lords can defeat government on EU rules”

A 25 Year Environment Strategy that won’t last five minutes

The Government’s long awaited 25 year strategy for saving the environment will make very little impact on decisions made in the Treasury or other Ministries, unless there is hard law to make sure it all happens. 

With the UK government already in breach of many of its environmental commitments, environmental campaigners are increasingly reaching for the law in order to make change happen. Client Earth have taken the Government to court over air pollution, and won three times. It’s taken repeated legal threats from the EU for the Government to do anything about cleaning up our polluted rivers. Continue reading “A 25 Year Environment Strategy that won’t last five minutes”

New year will start with a recycling crisis

Here in the UK we have an emerging problem with plastic. Huge amounts of plastic waste, supposedly due for recycling, could end up in UK incinerators in 2018 as China imposes restrictions on the type of recyclable materials it is willing to import. Greenpeace estimates that 2.7m tonnes of plastic waste has been shipped from the UK to China between 2012 and 2016. Yet despite warnings from the industry, our government has done nothing to build up the capacity to recycle plastics in this country.

Continue reading “New year will start with a recycling crisis”