Government announces plans to slash environmental protections

WE ARE ANGRY. Let our Policy Officer, Louise explain why.

The past week has seen a number of government announcements with the aim of ‘cutting red tape’.

But we know the cutting of red tape, in almost every case, is code for ‘supporting big business’. When it comes to the environment, this essentially means removing the very legislation that protects our precious blue and green spaces. These are not light measures. They are crucial protections, not just for the survival of ecosystems and species, but also for people.

Last week, the government announced plans for its ‘Brexit Freedoms Bill’. A bill that will give ministers powers to remove EU regulations without Parliamentary scrutiny. The truth of the matter is that the majority of the laws at risk are protections for the environment. Appalling. It will mean that crucial protections for the environment, which have been in place for decades, can be pushed aside with ease. Laws threatened include those for sewage and agriculture, the two biggest polluters of the UKs blue spaces. We already have the worst bathing waters in Europe, yet here are the UK government preparing to sink standards even lower.

And things get worse. On Friday, we saw yet more plans to slash environmental protections as part of the Mini-Budget. The Chancellor, Kwasi Kwarteng, announced plans to introduce planning policy ‘havens’ for developers, shielding them from crucial environmental policies. This means policies which protect and prevent areas from flooding, stop sewage overload, and safeguard nature can be ignored.

Has the government forgotten that we are in a climate and ecological emergency? This is NO TIME to slash environmental policies and ignore the consequences.

Whilst the crisis is obvious, the new government have made their disregard clear. Something we should have expected given the 235m cut to the Environment Agency, coordinated by now PM Liz Truss between 2014-16.  This resulted in £24m from a government grant for environmental protections being slashed, a grant that included funds for the surveillance of water companies to prevent them from breaking permits. So, any surprises that we’re in the sewage shitstorm we’re currently in? We think not.

With government announcing huge spending increases, we expect to see only scraps left over for the Environment Agency. A body already stretched to breaking point. This would have disastrous consequences. With empty pockets, they are currently unable to hold water companies to account or respond to “low level pollution incidents”, all thanks to their abysmal funding levels. In this time, we need more accountability and strong regulation, not less. We aren’t on the same page. We aren’t even in the same book. The government need to acknowledge that water companies are squandering our blue spaces. These actions will not be slashing red tape but instead will obliterate environmental funding and protections. And we refuse to watch it happen.

Our anger should not go unheard. Are you as angry as us? Why not write to your MP and demand they oppose this bill. Your MP represents YOU in parliament and the more voices that speak up, the more chance we have of making a different. Don’t know who your MP is? Find out here.