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.
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Plastic pollution

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”

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”

My amendment 20 to the Animal Welfare Bill

I would like to see a strong, broad-based animal sentience committee that conducts deep analysis of all government policy to ensure that its impact on animals has been properly considered. I would much rather that the committee looked at everything in the round than sporadically look at piecemeal bits of policy. The former seems the right way to go, especially when the Bill is premised on the fact that these animals are sentient beings with the capacity to feel, perceive and experience. Why any scrutiny body would be reduced to the position of seeking permission from those it is scrutinising to actually do the scrutinising is beyond me, but then there are those who believe in the divine right of kings and see scrutiny of the Government as a bad thing.

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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”

The adoption of remote electronic monitoring of fishing vessels

We discussed remote electronic monitoring when considering the Fisheries Bill and the House of Lords were able to get the Minister to put a firm commitment in support of it on the record. Lord Gardiner of Kimble, stated: “The Government are clear that we will be consulting on increasing the use of REM in the first half of 2021, with implementation following that. I am not in a position to give a precise date today for when this will be implemented, but I can absolutely say—and I want to put this on the record—that the Government are absolutely seized of the importance of REM.”—[Official Report, 12/11/20; col. 1174.]

Unfortunately, things do not seem to be progressing particularly quickly. The latest update I could find on the GOV.UK website, from 7 May, says: “We’ve considered all the submissions and will continue to use the evidence provided to inform further thinking on the use of remote electronic monitoring in England. We’ll engage more with stakeholders in the near future around the topics that were highlighted in this call for evidence.”

This language does not reflect the previous enthusiasm of Lord Gardiner of Kimble, so I asked the Minister to confirm that the Government remain “absolutely seized of the importance of REM”

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Fundamentally inadequate and incoherent

I do not understand how we can keep on passing legislation that does not tie up. Without amendments to the Environment Bill we are at risk of seeing our seas and fisheries as being separate from the rest of our environment and all our ecological activities. This sort of silo thinking would undermine the realities of the inseparable ecosystems and natural systems. I would be particularly concerned and upset if an upland authority had a nature recovery strategy that failed to take into account what was happening to its downstream neighbours and, ultimately, to the seas where the watercourses will end up. An Environment Bill that allows for that eventuality is fundamentally inadequate and incoherent, with no basic understanding of the environment.

We need these amendments because the alternative is that in a few years’ time the Government of the day will have to bring in new legislation to try to patch up these incoherencies, with perhaps a decade of lost opportunity to heal the environment in that time. It is much better that we work together now to get it right. Continue reading “Fundamentally inadequate and incoherent”