New environment bill leaves the UK woefully unprepared to tackle flooding
With many communities across the UK still underwater after heavy rainfall and flooding caused by Storm Ciara and Storm Dennis, Labour has said that the Environment bill, due to have its second reading in Parliament tomorrow (Wednesday 26th February) will leave the UK “woefully unprepared” to tackle flooding.
The new Office of Environmental Protection, created by the bill, is responsible for scrutinising government policies to safeguard the environment, but has no powers to improve measures to tackle flooding.
The Prime Minister has gone missing in action, failing to visit communities affected by flooding. The government has refused to give the Environment Agency the additional 1bn a year in funding it has asked for to take action to mitigate flood damage. This is alongside real terms cuts of £300 million to the Fire and Rescue Service over the last ten years.
The government has called this a landmark bill for the Environment, but it does not contain any targets for the government to stick to on tackling the climate crisis. It also does not have any legally binding targets for the UK to reduce its carbon emissions, even for the far off date off 2050 like the Conservatives promised during the General Election.
Luke Pollard MP, Labour’s Shadow Environment Secretary, said:
“By failing to give the Office of Environmental Protection any powers to tackle flooding, this bill will leave the UK woefully unprepared to tackle the type of devastating floods we have seen over the past few weeks and won’t do anything to help us reach net zero carbon emissions.
“We need bold and swift action to cut carbon, safeguard vulnerable habitats and protect declining animal, bird and insect species. This bill again shows the Tories don’t care about the concerns of ordinary people.”