Protectors of the planet

There are lots of good reasons why I travelled north to support the community protests against the frackers at Preston New Road in Lancashire, but climate change is the biggest priority for me. The government has changed the planning rules so it can put a fracking well on your doorstep, in the same way that it can now force Heathrow expansion on the millions of people in west London who will suffer increased noise and pollution. Both fracking and Heathrow expansion are hugely damaging to our climate and the future of our existence on this planet. Continue reading “Protectors of the planet”

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.”  Continue reading “Crucial vote in Lords on new environmental enforcement agency”

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”

Clean Air Bill must include new agency to enforce the right to clean air

Four Parliamentary Committees have issued a joint report on air pollution today. One of its key recommendations is that there needs to be a new Clean Air Bill and that should establish a right to clean air. I have already committed to bringing forward such a Bill in the Lords, drafted by Clean Air London.

The pressure is building on the Government to act. Geraint Davies MP in the Commons and myself in the Lords, are both bringing forward draft bills to lay out what the Government needs to do. We need clean air to be a human right and with Brexit happening in the next two years, we need to urgently create an independent, environmental enforcement agency. I believe that we need a Citizen’s Commission to help people take the government and corporations to court if they fail in their responsibilities to public health and the environment. The loss of European Commission oversight with Brexit is both a threat to existing environmental protections and also, an opportunity to create something stronger in its place.

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”

The future is battery run

My question on renewables and energy storage to the Minister

The cost of producing renewable energy has fallen rapidly in recent years and is predicted to be cheaper than all forms of nuclear or fossil fuels by the mid-2020s. The only thing holding renewables back is the cost of storing the energy and making it available when we need it. The UK has plenty of wind, sun and tides to power businesses and homes, but we have to invest in the storage capacity to make this a reality. Continue reading “The future is battery run”