“I am very glad to speak today in favour of the Opposition amendments, and on behalf of the deafening voice of civil society and so many organisations and individuals across the country, including the many local members of the Putney Environment Commission in my constituency, who feel that this Bill does not go far enough.
I served on the Bill Committee last November and was disappointed that the Government did not accept any Opposition amendments, which would have improved the Bill. Today, the Minister said that
“the desperate decline of our natural environment and biodiversity has gone on for far too long.”
That is right—so why is this Bill being so delayed, and with more delays to come? How can the EU (Future Relationship) Bill be rushed through in one day, while here we are in a climate emergency—as declared by Parliament in May 2019—yet this Bill has taken a year to get to this stage and now it has been announced that the next stage will be in May? Will we even have it passed by autumn?
This leaves us without the regulation of the EU that was in place before and with no new regulator in place. Will the Minister give a final deadline date for passing this Bill, and use the time between stages to improve it? The amendments before us today would give us much-needed higher ambition through targets, and much more strength to take action on the important areas of air quality, water, waste and chemicals.
Let me turn to new clause 8. It is vital to hold producers to account to ensure that waste is prevented throughout the whole supply chain, not just at the end—for example, by reducing plastics, changing materials and rethinking product use, such as nappies.
On air pollution, Putney High Street is one of the most polluted streets in the UK, and has the poor distinction of taking places two and three in a recent table of the top 10 pollution hotspots in London. We should set our sights high and include WHO targets in the Bill, not put them up for negotiation later. The cost will be that 550,000 Londoners will develop diseases attributable to air pollution over the next 30 years if we do not take strong action.
On amendment 24 on chemical regulation and setting up a whole new regulation in the UK when we already have one, this, among many things, will mean unnecessary animal testing. Many constituents have written to me about this issue. If more constituents knew about it, they would not be happy. I hope that this can be changed and rectified before the next stage of reporting in May.
In summary, the Bill has a long way to go before it is fit for purpose. I hope that today Conservative Members finally listen, give this Bill the force and ambition that our environment desperately needs, and vote for the Opposition amendments.”