The Office for Environmental Protection cannot be a lapdog

It is obvious to anybody looking in from outside that the office for environmental protection must do things such as hitting the share price of a water company whenever it dumps sewage into our rivers. We must have an independent OEP that commissions research into the impact of pesticides on our wildlife and insects and hands it over to MPs so that they can actually challenge Ministers and the lobbyists in Whitehall. We need an OEP that can say a straightforward no to damaging developments, whether it is infrastructure or development, urban or rural. It should not be suggesting mitigation and greenwash, which is what could happen with such a toothless watchdog. This country needs an OEP that is a rottweiler and not a lapdog.
Continue reading “The Office for Environmental Protection cannot be a lapdog”

You cannot separate biodiversity from climate

Lord Caithness has made the classic Conservative error of separating biodiversity from climate. It is all interconnected: you cannot talk about either without accepting that each has an impact on the other. Every noble Lord must understand that we have a climate emergency, and therefore this government Environment Bill is not good enough. We all know that–it is why there are so many amendments at Report. It is our job to improve the Bill and it is the Government’s job to listen and, I hope, accept our improvements. Continue reading “You cannot separate biodiversity from climate”

Heathrow expansion and other backward steps towards COP26

The government’s decision not to review the expansion of Heathrow, despite the obvious impacts on the climate emergency, is just one of the backward steps on the journey to COP26. The backward steps are the big decisions on climate change that can be categorised as ‘business as usual’ and won’t appear on any government media release. The £27bn road building programme, the thousands of homes and buildings being constructed that don’t meet zero carbon standards and the large number of waste incinerators. Even the fact that we are holding an inquiry into a new coal mine in Cumbria, or dishing out development licences for oil and gas exploration is bizarre when the science is telling us that the Greenland ice sheet is going to disappear and the seas rise by at least 7m (the palace of Westminster is 6m above sea level).

Continue reading “Heathrow expansion and other backward steps towards COP26”

We still need a ban on Fracking

I have tabled this amendment with a view to banning fracking once and for all. In doing so, I want to celebrate all the hard work of campaigners and activists across the country who delivered massive opposition against this dirty and dangerous polluting industry, often in the face of poor policy decisions by the Government and the fracking industry’s might-is-right attempts to quash them. In particular, I applaud the Preston New Road campaign in Lancashire. It was a thousand days of protest by the anti-fracking Nanas, a bunch of mainly older women led by Tina Rothery. They fought so hard in the face of well-financed and rather nasty, threatening behaviour by Cuadrilla. Continue reading “We still need a ban on Fracking”

CO2 Emissions from Vehicles

This is an almost sneaky little piece of legislation, because it is presented as a regulation to continue the status quo but it is actually backfilling a regulatory loophole that was created by the Government; it did not have to be created. I am concerned that this little loophole has allowed some highly polluting vehicles to be sold in Northern Ireland. It is only in September of this year that the loophole will close, so highly polluting vehicles can still be sold until then. Clearly, it was negligent of the Government to allow this to happen. For some strange reason, they dropped Northern Ireland out of the EU emissions regime two weeks before the end of the transition period and then allowed a nine-month window of lawlessness when it came to selling polluting vehicles.

Continue reading “CO2 Emissions from Vehicles”

Environment Bill Committee Stage Day 5 – Waste

We all know that the international waste economy is a nasty, polluting system, where the richest countries are using the poorest countries as dump sites—as giant landfill sites. Many people would be outraged to see that the recycling that they so carefully do is just baled up and dumped on poor countries and among poor communities, who then have to suffer the pollution that it causes.

I am also concerned about the increasing capacity of UK incinerators. From what I can see, the planned capacity of these incinerators will soon far exceed the amount of waste that the UK produces. Many local authorities are, of course, tied into 25-year contracts with such businesses. This means they will be looking around for waste to burn.

Continue reading “Environment Bill Committee Stage Day 5 – Waste”

Environment Bill Committee Stage Day 4

The window for action is closing, not just of this Bill but of all our actions on the climate emergency. At the moment we are seeing endless examples of very unusual weather patterns, whether in Canada or over much of Africa. We have to understand that we have to act urgently. The fact that the OEP will have fewer resources than the preceding body is a matter of huge concern. It is obvious that we all think there are problems with this Bill. Continue reading “Environment Bill Committee Stage Day 4”

Building to fail

We cannot solve Britain’s housing crisis by building shoddy homes in dangerous places, We need high-quality, safe, energy-efficient homes situated in ecologically sound places. If the Government live up to their stated environmental ambitions or have the slightest bit of common sense, the way forward is obvious: we simply do not build on flood plains. It is a national problem that we cannot fix once these houses are built, because they will not be safe, dry or good to live in and it will be impossible to insure them. Once again, the Government are building for failure, and I do not understand why any Government would do that. Continue reading “Building to fail”