Lords return Environment Bill to the Commons with big changes

Lords return Environment Bill to the Commons with big changes
Changes include a demand for government to declare a biodiversity and climate change emergency, improve protection for ancient woodland and to eliminate sewage discharges into rivers.

The government is now under pressure to get the bill passed, having previously said it would be law before COP 26.

Last month, environment minister Lord Goldsmith said it was in the "national and international interest" for the bill to be become law before the November climate conference in Glasgow.

he suggested delaying the bill could mean "weakening our hand in these extraordinarily important climate and environment negotiations".

However, time is running out as both the House of Commons and House of Lords have to agree any changes to the bill before it can become law.

A spokesperson for the environment department said: "We continue to work across parliament to complete its passage into law as soon as possible", adding "we will look closely at amendments passed at Report stage and consider how to respond when the Environment Bill returns to the House of Commons".

The government says its bill, which was published by the government back in 2019, aims to improve air and water quality, tackle plastic pollution, restore wildlife, and protect the climate.

However, the passage of the bill through Parliament has been slow, partly due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Progress will now be further delayed as the bill heads back to the House of Commons for MPs to vote on the changes introduced by the Lords.

Opposition peers voted to compel the government to set long-term targets for improving soil quality and air pollution.
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