The Rt. Hon. George Eustice MP
Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
2 Marsham Street
Tuesday, 09 March 2021
Re. Environment Bill
I am writing to seek information on when the Government intends to bring the Environment Bill back before the House for the remainder of its Report Stage and Third Reading. Many constituents have contacted me throughout the passage of the Bill and would be disappointed if it is delayed until the Autumn.
As you may know, I sat on the Public Bill Committee during the Bill’s Committee Stage. Over the course of several weeks, the committee meticulously analysed the Bill line-by-line and scrutinised the far-reaching impacts of it. Hence, I am acutely aware of the importance of its measures.
I still hold concerns over the shortcomings of the Bill. For example, it is disappointing that it allows bee-killing neonicotinoid pesticides to be used; I supported amendments to reverse this during the first day of the Bill’s Report Stage but unfortunately the Government voted this down. Furthermore, I believe the Bill ought to enshrine the World Health Organisation’s air quality standards into law to ensure that everyone has a legal right to breathe clean air.
However, despite these concerns the Bill does contain important measures which are urgently needed. The new Office for Environmental Protection will provide the necessary oversight and scrutiny over the Government’s progress in meeting green targets; whilst concerns have been raised about the true independence of the watchdog, it is better than no watchdog at all.
It is therefore vital that the Environment Bill is given its remaining stages as soon as possible. As the UK prepares to host the COP26 summit later this year, it would send the wrong message to the international community if this Bill is not on the statute book by then. Having left the Brexit transition period, we are currently in a state of limbo with no permanent replacements yet in place for the European Union’s environmental standards and the processes by which they are enforced. Our environment and natural habitats cannot wait until the autumn.
I therefore urge you to commit to bringing the Bill back to Parliament before the summer recess. In building a Global Britain, this would send a clear message to the international community that we are ready to take bold action to protect our environment.
Gill Furniss MP
Member of Parliament for Sheffield Brightside and Hillsborough