Foiled at the first attempt but the amendment will return!

Lib Dem Lord Jonny Oates last night introduced an amendment to the Environment Bill that would give Councils the powers we need to protect biodiversity at Seething Wells Filter Beds.

The amendment was supported by many who spoke but unfortunately it seems the Minister, Lord Zac Goldsmith didn’t understand the issues the amendment was trying to address, so it did not receive Government support.

Lords protocol is that amendments are not voted on at the Committee stage. In his closing statement Lord Oates confirmed that he would be bringing the amendment back at report stage in September.

Highlights of the debate were:

Lord Oates (Lib Dem), recognising the commitment of both local Councillors and the local action group, said, “In the context of this site [Seething Wells Filter Beds], I pay tribute to the appropriately named Councillor Liz Green, whose passion to protect this site inspired this amendment, and to the Seething Wells Action Group, for all its committed campaigning.”

Baroness Jones of Moulsecoomb (Green), fully supporting the amendment as the only way to protect sites, said, “I know that the Green Party’s 450 or so councillors sitting on over 140 local authorities, along with thousands of other environmentally aware councillors from other political parties, would be able to achieve a huge amount with these new powers—in particular, the ability to prohibit inappropriate activities that would be detrimental to biodiversity. At the moment, there is little more that can be done other than protesting and campaigning against this sort of environmental destruction, which of course we all do extremely well but too often it is, sadly, completely useless. So this would be an important tool with which to defend communities and nature.”

Responding, Lord Goldsmith (Con) did not seem to understand that on a site that is not subject to planning, local councils do not have powers to prevent the destruction of biodiversity.

The full Hansard record of the debate around the amendment can be found HERE.

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