The Environment Bill is set to return to the House of Commons tomorrow (20 October), where 14 Lords’ amendments will be debated. Jenny Jones and Natalie Bennett are calling on the public to help lobby MPs, so they can pass crucial changes to stop sewage being dumped in the rivers; end the use of pesticides that kill bees; and fix the problem of fine particulate air pollution leading to premature deaths.
In a statement, the Green Party outlined the work that Jenny and Natalie have done in the Lords to pass these changes: “An amendment on soil health passed because of Natalie's single-handed determination to change the discussion on the use of artificial fertilisers and chemicals in farming, whilst Jenny's constant focus on air pollution ensured that an amendment setting a target for fine particulates (PM 2.5) was successful.”
The statement continues: “At the moment, the Environment Bill allows ministers to do things, but in only a handful areas does it give them the legal responsibility to act – for which they can be held accountable. You can help support these amendments to ensure there are clear rules to protect us all.
“These amendments to the Environment Bill on climate change, biodiversity, plastics and sewage will only protect human health and the natural world if they are enforceable, and that is why two of the amendments are especially important. The Lords want to strengthen the Office for Environmental Protection (OEP), so it has independence of funding and appointments, along with the ability to take court action against the Government and other public bodies when they get things wrong. These key amendments will stop the Government from directing the OEP's work or hiding reports.
“The Government has already written several of its own amendments into the legislation in response to the concerns raised by both peers and MPs. These changes help, but still fall well short of the protections our environment needs. We are asking you to lobby your MPs to improve the Environment Bill and give Caroline Lucas MP your help in convincing the Commons to back these crucial changes.”
You can support Natalie and Jenny's work by finding and messaging your MP using the They Work For You website. Their newsletter sets out the amendments in full, what they would change, and why those changes are important.