Victory on Agriculture Bill

The Lords voted to keep food standards and protect family farms by amending the Agriculture Bill on Tuesday. The government managed to unite the National Farmers Union, consumer organisations, supermarkets and greens in lobbying for the Lords to defeat the government by 307/212. It was one of six government defeats in the Lords on what used to be considered rural, home turf for the Conservative Party. Continue reading “Victory on Agriculture Bill”

Our Agriculture Bill Amendments

This Agriculture Bill will shape how our countryside looks for the next generation. It will change the way money is spent on food and land management as the £20 billions of subsidies that flowed through the European Union’s (EU) Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) are replaced by a new system.  We do not support this bill, but we are doing our best to make some good of it. We are attempting to insert new clauses and substantial amendments, as well as co-signing a number of important amendments from other peers. The wording of our clauses and amendments are detailed below in topic groupings.

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Withdrawal Bill needs to include scrutiny for any backwards steps on the environment

With all the Henry the Eighth powers, secondary legislation making powers, and judicial erasure powers that Parliament will have handed to the Government in the Withdrawal Bill and other Brexit legislation, Ministers are going to find themselves with an unprecedented ability to rewrite enormous aspects of UK law at will. The Commons will be effectively by-passed and the Lords may feel compelled to wave it all through, as happens with almost every piece of secondary legislation. For this reason, it is so important that we put a backstop into law now, to protect environmental, food safety and animal welfare standards. Continue reading “Withdrawal Bill needs to include scrutiny for any backwards steps on the environment”

Future Generations Bill introduced

Today, I am introducing the Future Generations Bill on behalf of independent peer, John Bird (founder of Big Issue). This Bill aims to look after the interests of the very young and those not yet born. In the words of John Bird, the world of tomorrow should: “… not simply be an accumulation of the half-arsed hopes and the short-term governmental thinking of days gone by.”

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Green New Deal, Agriculture and Fisheries

It is no longer hyperbole to state that our planet is facing multiple existential threats. It was the conclusion, and consensus, of international scientists laid out in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report late last year. And it is bolstered by the UN’s terrifying new report by the Intergovernmental Science Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services. The conclusions can be summarised in a simple truth: humanity has caused mass extinctions and we are destroying the natural systems on which we all depend. It isn’t too late to change course – but we cannot delay a moment longer. Continue reading “Green New Deal, Agriculture and Fisheries”

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”