My amendment 109 addressing governance gaps in environmental law

Several requirements for the Secretary of State to report information to the European Commission in relation to environmental law have been lost because of the UK’s departure from the EU and the subsequent adoption of new statutory instruments. This poses a serious threat to the effective application of environmental law in the UK and the Government’s ability to achieve their stated aim and manifesto promise of leaving the environment in a better state than that in which it was found. The reporting of information relating to environmental law is absolutely vital to ensure transparency and accountability in environmental policy-making and ensure that government and stakeholders can identify and address environmental impacts. Continuity over time in the information being recorded and reported can also help to reveal trends and increase transparency.

My Amendment 109 would introduce a new clause into the Bill that is intended to address some extensive governance gaps in environmental law that have arisen because of the UK’s departure from the EU. Continue reading “My amendment 109 addressing governance gaps in environmental law”

Animal Testing

Nowadays, there is widespread recognition that animal testing is wrong and should be avoided. The expansion and development of human society has had huge impacts on all sorts of other species. Disruption to their lifestyles has been accidental and deliberate, and has resulted in suffering, death, and even extinction. Millions of animals are still abused every year in experiments that cause great pain and suffering. This is despite significant differences between the physiology of animals and humans, which can mean these experiments are ineffective or even pointless. Hopefully, we are advanced enough to move beyond these barbaric practices and move positively forwards as stewards of the natural world. Continue reading “Animal Testing”

The Office for Environmental Protection currently lacks status, teeth, independence and accountability

It is widely recognised across the House that the office for environmental protection is not currently fit for purpose – it is too weak and easily ignored. These amendments would give it status and, more importantly, they would help to ensure the independence of the office and prevent the Government meddling. That is the sort of level of ambition that we should be setting for our environmental watchdog. Parliament is also the proper place for the OEP to be accountable to. Continue reading “The Office for Environmental Protection currently lacks status, teeth, independence and accountability”

If it is bad for the environment, it is probably not a good idea to do it

It is useful to see just how far the Government will go in trying to block all these common-sense amendments. Lord Krebs pointed out that this was meant to be a non-regression Bill but when the Minister said that, I choked, because it is so patently untrue.

Continue reading “If it is bad for the environment, it is probably not a good idea to do it”

‘Due Regard’ is a get out clause

My Amendment 75 to the Environment Bill would flesh out the environmental principles so that they reflect a much broader set of principles, written in simple, understandable language. For example, the precautionary principle and the polluter pays principle would actually be explained and defined. It would also add things such as using the “best available scientific knowledge”, the principles of public participation and the principle of “sustainability” to take into account the health of present generations and the needs of future generations.

Taken together, these amendments would create an accessible blueprint for our country and for the planet. They would set out the clear environmental principles on which our future would be founded, and require—not simply invite—the Government to implement those principles in all areas of policy. This is the type of legislation that a Green Government would implement, these are the principles that we would apply and these are the ways in which we would make ourselves accountable to Parliament, to the courts, and to future generations. Continue reading “‘Due Regard’ is a get out clause”

Environment Bill: My air pollution amendment

I have worked the issue of air pollution on since 2001. The sources of air pollution are widespread: industry, transport, buildings and agriculture are all major contributors. We have to understand how each of those can be cleaned up and improved, not just for all of us who breathe it in in the cities, but for farmers who also experience a huge amount of pollution in their daily lives.

Air pollution has been found to cause death after a coroner ruled it was a cause of death for Ella Adoo-Kissi-Debrah. The coroner in Ella’s case said that “there is no safe level for Particulate Matter” in air and recommended a reduction in the national pollution limits to bring them into line with World Health Organization guidelines, which is exactly what my Amendment 29 would do. Continue reading “Environment Bill: My air pollution amendment”

Environment Bill Day 2 – Plastic: the new asbestos

I suspect that not very far in the future, we will think of plastic as the new asbestos. We have known for a long time that plastic takes hundreds of thousands of years to break down, but only recently we have understood how bad that is. Plastic only breaks down into smaller and smaller pieces; it does not actually ever go away. We now see that microplastics are present almost everywhere, including in our own bodies. Plastics accumulate in the food that we eat, moving up the food chain until it reaches its highest concentration in our bodies and, most concerningly, in mothers’ breast milk. When microplastics get very small, they are referred to as nanoplastics. They are so small that they can cross cellular membranes and actually work their way into our individual cells. We are currently clueless about what that means for our health and the environment.

Continue reading “Environment Bill Day 2 – Plastic: the new asbestos”

Environment Bill – the reduction of meat and dairy consumption

Farming accounts for 12% of greenhouse gas emissions in the UK. Changing the way we use our land is critical to delivering the UK’s Net Zero target. It is time for the Government to start facing up to this reality. The Prime Minister should use his political capital to begin this conversation and start this road to a more sustainable diet.  I would like to set him a challenge: persuading the public that modifying our diets is an important step towards net zero. Continue reading “Environment Bill – the reduction of meat and dairy consumption”

Environment Bill: Water pollution amendment

This is not just about chemicals that we should not drink going in; that is only a tiny part of the picture. The River Thames floods with human sewage multiple times a week and also has some of the highest recorded levels of microplastics in the world. It is long overdue for the Government to get a grip on water pollution.

Sewage and water companies make a lot of money and they should be clearing up their own mess. If they cannot take on these contracts, they should not take them on. When it comes to cost, we should look at the businesses that make money out of our rivers and our sewage, and we should make them pay. Continue reading “Environment Bill: Water pollution amendment”

Environment Bill Day 1 – purpose and potential

Without these amendments the Bill risks falling far short of what it needs to achieve. Without these amendments, setting out the clear purpose, there will be a danger of policymakers and the courts interpreting this legislation far too narrowly. Without these amendments, there is very little to bind the decisions made under the Bill.

Then there is the requirement for the Prime Minister to declare a climate and ecological emergency. Why has he not done so already? This must happen before COP 26. It is impossible for the United Kingdom to give any type of leadership at COP 26 without this declaration. It should form the very foundation of COP and be the basis for negotiations there.

Continue reading “Environment Bill Day 1 – purpose and potential”