The Lords send the Environment Bill back to the Commons with significant modifications

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The Environment Bill is being sent back to the House of Commons after the Lords made significant changes.

In the face of government resistance, lawmakers added 14 revisions to the bill. A demand that the government proclaim a biodiversity and climate change emergency, increase protection for old woods, and eliminate sewage discharges into rivers are among the changes.

After earlier stating that the bill would be passed before COP 26, the government is now under pressure to get it passed. Last month, Environment Minister Lord Goldsmith stated that passing the bill before the November climate conference in Glasgow was in the “national and international interest.”

The bill, which was released by the government in 2019, intends to improve air and water quality, combat plastic pollution, restore wildlife, and safeguard the climate, according to the government.

The proposed new law establishes a new independent watchdog, the Office for Environmental Protection, to oversee environmental progress. However, due to the coronavirus pandemic, the bill’s path through Parliament has been delayed.

The bill will now be sent back to the House of Commons for MPs to vote on the revisions made by the Lords.

Peers in the opposition decided to push the administration to set long-term goals for soil quality and air pollution reduction. They also demanded that the government meet intermediate as well as long-term environmental goals.

Another change removes the defence, national security, and economic policy exceptions from the need that ministers consider environmental principles when developing policy. During the planning process, Peers also introduced a clause ensuring increased protection for old woods.

The bill’s passage through the House of Lords was “difficult but fruitful,” according to Lord Goldsmith.

He stated that he was not in the greatest position to comment on future Commons debates. “I encourage everyone to get their best bats just in case,” he advised his teammates.

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