HS2 temporary reprieve for ancient woodlands

At least 108 ancient woods are threatened with loss or damage from the two phases of HS2, with phase one already underway. A review of the HS2 project has been set up by the government and I have raised the issue of a complete suspension of all environmentally damaging work with the review team. Extinction rebellion have joined with local campaigners and with Chris Packham to organise protests against the work going ahead.

Work on the woodlands has now been suspended, which is great. These woodlands are crucial spots for biodiversity; the trees are hundreds of years old and have therefore become prized spots for rare invertebrates, bats and birds. However, there are many other habitats that need preserving while the review takes place.

Colne Valley is a good example of a site that needs treating with caution. It is not only beautiful, its aquifer is one of the main water supplies for London. Local campaigners have today sent HS2 a warning notice of intended legal action if the company goes ahead with plans to drive, a hole 30m deep, straight through the sub-soil of a highly polluted area and into the permeable rock of the aquifer below. This would potentially be a criminal act, as it would impact on the water supply of several million people.

A local pumping station had to be closed down a few years ago because of pollution from a local landfill site. Local greens have evidence that the closure of that pumping station has changed the flow of the underground water and it now goes directly under where HS2 are doing their work. I have asked a series of questions about this in the Lords and intend to send a lot more. HS2 need to start taking their environmental responsibilities seriously.

Latest podcast

Jenny talks to Mike Schwarz, civil liberties lawyer, about the right to protest

Mike Schwarz has been a human rights lawyer at Bindmans for 25 years. He has represented numerous campaigners, including all three of Jenny’s part time staff. He describes the ups and downs of the right to protest over those years. Continue reading “Latest podcast”

HS2, Colne Valley and the threat to London’s water supply

The chalk hills of the Chilterns act as a giant reservoir, with water slowing seeping down into streams in the Colne Valley and onwards into the Thames Valley to London. The crowded South East often has periods of being low on water and with the area around the Colne Valley supplying 22% of London’s water, the threat of water pollution is a major concern. There is an obvious danger to drilling down 70m near a landfill site in the Colne Valley, which has been declared a special site of pollution. Despite previous leaks from this landfill site leading to the contamination of a local river and the permanent closure of a pumping station, HS2 think it is worth risking London’s water supply.  Local people, such as Green Party campaigner Sarah Green, disagree strongly. Continue reading “HS2, Colne Valley and the threat to London’s water supply”

Trade Bill update

My amendment on the Trade Bill was debated this week, with support from Labour and Lib Dems. It contains the current protections for the standards we have. But the Government seems reluctant to accept it, even though the Prime Minister herself has said that she doesn’t want to weaken existing standards in future trade agreements. At the moment it would be possible for Ministers to use statutory instruments to change the rules on this, but my amendment would guarantee these minimum standards were kept for rolling over all the trade deals that we currently have as a result of EU membership.

Continue reading “Trade Bill update”

Meeting with Minister on Trade Bill changes

I had a meeting this week with Trade Minister Baroness Fairhead to discuss my amendment to the Trade Bill which aims to make our existing standards the foundation of all new trade agreements. Despite the number of advisors in the meeting on the government side, no one could give any reason why my amendment was bad in law or in principle. From what Ministers say in public, we are all in agreement about not using trade deals to lower standards. The main disagreement is over whether we need this principle enshrined in law. Continue reading “Meeting with Minister on Trade Bill changes”

Farming and climate change

Following a recent meeting with the National Farmers Union (NFU) I asked the government what they were doing to reduce the 10% of the UK’s greenhouse gases that come from the agriculture sector. There are quite a few initiatives being taken, but none on the scale needed to make a significant impact, according to the Climate Change Commission.  The draft Agriculture Bill offers a rare chance to change the system of financial incentives to give a boost to public goods, such as reducing climate change and rewilding the countryside. Continue reading “Farming and climate change”

A little bit of vegan goes a long way

For 2019 do you want a fast way to reduce animal suffering, lower your greenhouse gas emissions and lessen your risk of disease? Going vegan is the answer. You don’t have to be perfect, you don’t have to give up everything; you can start with a vegan meal, work up to a vegan day, week, month – there are no rules. Continue reading “A little bit of vegan goes a long way”

Buffer zones between rivers and farms to bring back beavers

Creating a 20m buffer zones between all watercourses and farmed land would leave space for a wide range of wildlife and plants to flourish, including beavers. I will be asking the government (3rd December, Oral Question) to introduce such buffer zones as part of a rewilding of the countryside. Such a move would instantly create natural corridors that would allow rarer species to travel and migrate in response to a changing climate. Continue reading “Buffer zones between rivers and farms to bring back beavers”

Crowdfunder to support Jenny’s work

Please support our work

Unlike MPs, who receive state funding, members of the House of Lords don’t receive any financial support to employ staff or fund office costs.

As the only Green in the House of Lords, covering as many issues as I can, I need staff to help me with research and press work. I have a small, part time team (equivalent to one full time person) who are paid for from donations from people like you. Continue reading “Crowdfunder to support Jenny’s work”