Liberal Democrat MP Tim Farron put forward a Ten Minute Rule Bill that would have created an independent regulator to hold the Government and public authorities to account on their environmental targets.
This regulator would have had new powers and resources to ensure compliance with the targets. However, yesterday the Bill has fallen with MPs not having the opportunity to debate it.
The Conservatives had promised to create a new environmental regulator, replacing the role the European Commission played before Brexit. However the proposed “Office of Environmental Protection” has been criticised for lacking meaningful enforcement powers.
Furthermore, the Environment Bill that will create the OEP has been delayed several times since it was first introduced in 2018, and is now not expected to return to Parliament until after the Queen’s Speech.
The Liberal Democrats strongly believe that the UK urgently needs an independent environmental regulator which can force the Government to maintain agricultural standards and comply with environmental protections. The Bill was backed by all Liberal Democrat MPs and Alliance MP Stephen Farry.
Commenting on his Bill, Spokesperson for Rural Affairs Tim Farron MP said: “For too long the Tories have treated our environment and agriculture with contempt and got away with it – they must be regulated by an independent body with real teeth to hold the Government to account. Farmers are vital allies in the battle against the climate and nature crises, yet this government is leaving them in the lurch.
“My Bill’s regulator would have ensured that environmental protections and animal welfare standards cannot be undermined – protecting British farmers so they can support work to enhance our natural environment and cut emissions. This would have ended the uncertainty caused by this Tory Government which has left family farmers fearing for their livelihoods. I am gutted that it has fallen today without being debated by MPs.
“Liberal Democrats are fighting for a greener society, meanwhile the Conservative Government have left environmental regulation behind. Without this regulator we will leave our air quality, our biodiversity and even our farmers at real risk. I plan to reintroduce my Bill as soon as possible to give MPs a chance to vote for it.”