The Green Party campaign to stop the government from scrapping vital water pollution rules has saved Stroud’s MP from having to choose between supporting her government or saving our rivers, says Pete Kennedy, Green parliamentary candidate for Stroud.
The Conservative government threatened to remove legislation (known as the nutrient neutrality rules) that protects waterways from pollution created by new home building. But the plan was defeated by the House of Lords last night (September 13) after a campaign by the Greens and other environmental groups.
The Slimbridge-based Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust had said the government’s “regressive” move would damage vulnerable wetlands and force taxpayers – instead of developers – to shoulder the cost of dealing with pollution. It described as “meaningless” the government’s earlier promises not to weaken legal protections for the environment.
Pete Kennedy, who has been working with campaigners and Greens in Parliament to protect Stroud’s rivers, said: “MP Siobhan Baillie has really dodged a bullet here. Had the Lords not overturned this latest attempt by the government to reduce environmental protections, the matter would have gone to a vote in the Commons and she would have been forced to choose between her allegiance to the WWT and her loyalty to Rishi Sunak’s government.
“Her public support for the WWT and her role as chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Wetlands are in direct conflict with her role as a Conservative MP. Her options would have been either to oppose the government and vote against the changes, or to betray the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust by toeing the party line and voting with the government.
“It’s wonderful that this latest threat to our rivers has been stopped. It shows the value of having Greens in Parliament pushing Labour and the Conservatives to do the right thing.”
Photo: Green Peers Natalie Bennett and Jenny Jones (front row) celebrate after the Lords defeated the government’s plans. Behind them is Pete Kennedy (centre) with campaigners.