If you make protests impossible to perform legally, criminalise non-violent direct action, abolish or restrict the ability of citizens to challenge the Government in court through judicial reviews, turn people against lawyers, gerrymander the election boundaries and dish out cash in the way that looks best for Conservative MPs, that is deep, dark politics. Many of us here are not particularly political and perhaps do not see the dangers inherent in what the Government are doing. It all seems like a calculated ploy to turn all the cards in favour of an unaccountable Government that cannot be challenged in the courts, at the ballot box or on the streets.
I am so sad and disappointed that we have got to this place: we are under pressure, because of the primacy of the other place, to pass a Bill that is not as good as the one we amended. It seems that the Government do not understand what they have done in stripping out some of the safeguards we have put in.
I had to laugh when I saw the amendments on duty of candour, because you sort of assume you can expect a duty of candour for the police; it really should not have to be emphasised in the way that it has been here.
As regards the criminalisation of trespass, it is wonderful to see such a huge coalition of Peers tabling amendments and speaking on this issue. I imagine that Gypsy and Roma Travellers, peaceful protesters, van-lifers, wild campers and anyone else threatened by this proposed legislation will be glad to see the opposition that is coalescing in this House. Far from criminalising trespass, we should be opening up more land for access to the public and enhancing our enjoyment of our magnificent countryside. This is a nasty section of the Bill, it is discriminatory and dangerous, we should remove these clauses completely.
I have asked the government:
“What discussions has the Environment Agency had with water companies regarding the ending of sewage being dumped into the Lake District, World Heritage Site and how far off are they from achieving high quality water in accordance with the water framework directive?”
Although old train engines and boats do contribute to air pollution, they will be fairly localised and minimal compared with other emissions being pumped out by, for example, the Government building new roads or opening new coal mines—or indeed allowing the growth of incinerators all over the country that operate without proper regulations.
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This is, again, clearly an issue that the Government should have put in the original Environment Bill. This is an old Bill in the sense that it was originally written in 2019. It was pathetic then and it is pathetic still.
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”
What is the point of having targets if there is no duty to meet them?
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The Government claim to be a leader in tackling plastics pollution, but Greenpeace pointed out that they are actually fuelling the plastics crisis. The UK is the biggest contributor to this waste production behind the USA. What we do is force our waste on other countries. Some have refused, but, apparently, 40% of our plastic waste is sent to Turkey, where of course it is producing serious health problems for the people in the surrounding areas, such as respiratory issues, nosebleeds and headaches. So the Government are fuelling not just the nature emergency but health crises as well, and you have to take responsibility for that. Continue reading “Plastic pollution”
Light pollution impacts on humans and other species and on the planet in terms of energy consumption and contributes to greenhouse gas emissions. It deserves a place in the Environment Bill. Continue reading “Buglife and artificial light”