My speech during the Third Reading of the Environment Bill, 26 May 2021

I welcome cleaner air and cleaner water, and I wish the Bill well as it completes its passage. I hope that we will be nicer to nature and better to the other species we share our islands with.

I would like briefly to make a few points to the Secretary of State and the ministerial team, who have worked hard to get this far. The first point is on water. I urge them to work with the water industry and the regulators to put in more reservoir capacity. We have had many homes and new families coming into my area of Wokingham and West Berkshire, but there has been no increase in potential water supply. Nationwide, we still have a rising population, and they will need good provision of clean water.

There are two great natural advantages of having more reservoir capacity. First, when we have long periods of excessive rainfall—we seem to be having one at the moment—and there is the danger of the rivers overtopping and causing flood damage, we need more good places to park the water, and we could then recharge the extra reservoir capacity. Secondly, were we once again to have one of those long, hot summers with long dry spells, as we have had from time to time in the past, we would be able to draw down in more comfort, knowing that we had adequate reservoir capacity, without having to run the streams and rivers too low or draw excessively on the natural aquifers.

On Report, I talked about the excellent news that there will be many more trees and urged Ministers to ensure that they help to build a much bigger forestry and timber industry. We import far too much and need to replace it with home production and fewer wood miles. I also urge the Secretary of State to bring forward those great schemes to promote more food production here at home. We lost too much market share, particularly in areas such as vegetables and fruit, in our CAP days. I do not think it is morally right to be drawing so much of that food from a country such as Spain, which is parched and in great difficulties eking out its inadequate water supplies, when we have plenty of water at home and could do so much more to promote a good domestic industry, cutting the food miles and giving confidence in the environmental benefits of having the home product.

I would also like to draw Ministers’ attention to the unresolved business that they have promised to work on as we complete this piece of legislation: the possible conflict between the Office for Environmental Protection and the Climate Change Committee. I urge Ministers to recognise that they need to supervise both bodies and give them clear public guidance on their remits. The Government will need to bring forward that piece of work to explain what the relative roles of the two are and how the different sets of targets—the natural UK targets on the one hand and the climate change targets on the other—will knit together and be compatible, rather than cause tensions.

For example, we need to know what the thinking is about the pace of carbon dioxide reduction and transition and how that impacts on our natural landscape, because if we are going to accelerate the move to electric vehicles or from gas boilers or both, there will need to be massive investment. That investment includes the production of a lot of steel, glass and batteries. Mining activity somewhere is required to produce those raw materials and fashion them into something that can then be part of an electric product. We need to know whether we will be doing any of that in the UK, or whether the idea is that we should import much of it because we do not wish to husband our own natural resources for this purpose.

If we are going to import, we should properly account for it, because it is not helping the planet if we say, “Well, we’re not putting the mine here or burning the coal to smart the steel here,” but it is happening somewhere else. Indeed, it may be happening somewhere else where environmental concerns are taken much less seriously and the environmental damage of producing that product is far greater than if we had done it at home.

I hope that more work will be published on the pace and cost of transition. Again, the Bill seems to point us more in the direction of repair, maintenance, recycling and reuse, and not wanting a throwaway society but reckoning that, if we make good things, they could last for rather longer. How is that reconciled with the idea that we want a rapid transition to get rid of our existing fleet of petrol and diesel vehicles and to rip out all our gas boilers and solid fuel heating systems? Has there been proper carbon accounting on all that, and how is that reconciled with the very good aim in this Bill that we must consider the impact on our earth and the amount that we take out of our earth in order to fashion the things we may need?

There is a lot of work ahead for Ministers, who have already been very busy. As others have said, the Bill is only the first step, and it will then need to be fashioned into popular products and feasible programmes: things that business will want to collaborate with and things that people will want to do. There is an educational process involved. We also need to ensure that we know what the costs are and that they are realistic, that they are phased and that they fall fairly. I would still like to hear more from the Government on the total cost of all this work, because we need to ensure that it is realistic, that it does not get in the way of levelling up and greater prosperity, and that it reinforces our prime agenda, which is the health and welfare of the British people.

58 Comments

  1. a-tracy
    May 27, 2021

    Reservoirs –
    When the water companies were State-owned what was the ratio of reservoir capacity to the number of people in the UK? Was there an even balance in each water board region?
    Now the water companies are private/shareholder-owned what is the ratio of reservoir capacity to the number of people in the UK? Were there any safeguards written into the takeovers to ensure that adequate provisions were made or reclaimed water targets?
    When water runs out why can’t the customers sue the water companies for lack of provision because they’re not investing in adequate resources for our known consumption?

    Reply The Regulators limit the capital that can be invested so they often resist extra capacity

    1. Peter
      May 27, 2021

      a-tracey,
      Water was another privatisation for doctrinaire reasons. Lots of friends in The City also made a nice little earner.

      Major investment was required because of an aging infrastructure. Unfortunately the newly privatised companies have been allowed to take liberties and price gouge. Water is a resource where globalists are determined to make big profits
      That even applies in these islands that are blessed with plentiful water.

      Reply All nonsense. These are heavily regulated to control price and profits.

      1. steve
        May 27, 2021

        JR

        “Reply All nonsense. These are heavily regulated to control price and profits. ”

        I don’t think it is all nonsense Mr Redwood.

        What is the track record of the regulators ensuring the water companies conduct regular gully clearance ? what is their record of ensuring these companies properly maintain sewerage and feed networks ?

        The regulator is another toothless quango, same as all the other ‘Offs’.

      2. No Longer Anonymous
        May 28, 2021

        Perhaps we could lick the morning dew off solar panels.

      3. Fred.H
        May 28, 2021

        Sir John, do you really believe ‘they are heavily regulated to control price and profits.’?
        Oh dear.

    2. dixie
      May 28, 2021

      @Reply So are we water users in Berkshire to hold the regulators to blame for increased bills subsidising the London super-sewer?
      Meanwhile the water mains on Wilderness Road has burst yet again.

  2. Sakara Gold
    May 27, 2021

    This was an excellent speech, which covered much ground and many of the sentiments and ideas that were put forward are very welcome

    However, millions will head to the beaches for the Bank Holiday weekend – and I should have liked to have seen a mention of the pressing need to prevent raw sewage from being dumped in our seas and rivers.

    “our prime agenda, which is the health and welfare of the British people”

    Swimming in raw sewage is going to be a seriously dangerous and unpleasant activity for the British people as they enjoy the Bank Holiday at the seaside

    1. Peter2
      May 27, 2021

      Can you tell us SG, where you are swimming in raw sewage?
      Thanks.

      1. MiC
        May 27, 2021

        With 400,000 discharges a year into watercourses it’s pretty clear that a proportion of nearly all major watercourses and coastal waters will be comprised of exactly this, isn’t it?

        1. Peter2
          May 27, 2021

          Not really MiC
          Give us a list of beaches people are actually swimming in raw sewage.

        2. a-tracy
          May 28, 2021

          MiC how do you know there are 400,000 discharges a year can you tell us your source please when you quote these sorts of accusations. Who is the regulator – Ofwat? did they receive complaints about it? How many were upheld? I’m intrigued.

          1. Fred.H
            May 28, 2021

            OFWAT – the paper tiger to beat all the rest.

          2. Sakara Gold
            May 28, 2021

            @a-tracy
            Most of the discharges data can be found on the Environment Agency website

            In 2019 the “Environment” Agency reported that raw sewage was pumped into rivers 292,864 times, totalling 1.5 million hours. Last year, cases recorded rose to 403,171 after the numbers of overflows being monitored apparently rose by nearly 50 per cent, from 8,276 to 12,092.

            The EU regularly used to fine us because our beaches were contaminated with faecal bacteria, if you can force yourself to access “The Sun” website here is a map of where the sewage is being discharged

            https://www.thesun.co.uk/travel/9277317/british-beach-warning-sewage-pollution/

            Disgusting!

          3. Peter2
            May 28, 2021

            a-tracey
            if you do an Internet search on “400,000 sewerage discharges story” you will find a few articles about it.

          4. Peter2
            May 28, 2021

            Most discharges are untreated storm water surges.

          5. a-tracy
            June 1, 2021

            Sakara Gold – thank you – ewww I didn’t see that subject at the time. I read that Germany is very successful in wastewater recycling and treatment? Why aren’t our private water boards held to better policies? What is the point of Ofwat if nothing happens and no improvements are made, in fact things seem to have got worse last year?

    2. glen cullen
      May 27, 2021

      I am sure the police will be out again issuing fines to people on the beaches contravening the lockdown rules

  3. Bryan Harris
    May 27, 2021

    Some very good points.

    It is certainly overkill to have both the Office for Environmental Protection and the Climate Change Committee active at the same time. Never mind that they overlap each other, I do not believe we should be spending so much effort on the fantasy called climate change.

    We’ve lived through enough years of little rain to know that there can never be enough water in storage. Just because we currently are adequately supplied should not stop the government insisting that water companies get on with providing more supplies, as well as making real progress in the still enormous waste of water disappearing through broken pipes.

    It is hard to imagine that this bill does anything but point us in a general direction while making sure the authorities have the power to impose their will. By starting off from an invalid conclusion, the government is wasting so much time, effort and resources when they could be plotting a real future for us all devoid of irrational global think.

    My one hope is that common sense rationality returns to the UK sooner rather than later.

    1. Lester
      May 27, 2021

      BH

      Agreed +1

  4. Cliff. Wokingham
    May 27, 2021

    Sir John

    A good speech and some very good points.
    Capacity or rather lack of, was the excuse they used to put us on meters.
    They got a drought order which allowed them to force the meters upon us. They said that a combination of a lack of rain, empty resovoirs, low river levels and high demand were the cause. The local authority and government then gave the go ahead fot tens of thousands of new homes in this area. I do not believe they have really increased capacity in terms of storage or supply.
    I preferred a water bill based on rateable value because on a low income, dispite what Andy thinks, it is easier to budget.

    One off topic comment if I may re the Cummins show… Hell hath no fury like a special advisor scorned.

    1. Everhopeful
      May 27, 2021

      Indeed +1
      And MSM have no greater love than a diversionary pantomime!
      And a little nudge towards more fear and love of lockdown.

      1. glen cullen
        May 27, 2021

        Oh they love lockdown – but deaths rate with pop of 68m is practically zero
        Past week – 9, 6, 5, 3, 15, 9, 10

        1. Everhopeful
          May 27, 2021

          Exactly!
          +1

        2. a-tracy
          May 28, 2021

          glen, I wonder how many of those deaths we imported from elsewhere in the World.
          The weeks delay in locking down India was a massive mistake, anyone going out there after we closed down on Christmas 2020 knew they were running unnecessary risks and should have been told if you travel to India you may not be allowed back.
          Australia said plane loads of people with negative tests were tested in Australia on landing and were found to be infected.
          If this re-sparks our virus overload and we all get locked down again Boris/Hancock/Shapps are gonners.

        3. Fred.H
          May 28, 2021

          Those that refused the vaccination…

  5. Bob Duxon
    May 27, 2021

    For the last 50 years, my home is and has been on the banks of The Great Ouse in St Ives,Cambridgeshire.
    Every year we experience flood water rushing down to The Wash. Aerial pictures are spectacular of flood water in and around St. Ives but little damage is caused.This flood water could be used in periods of dry weather.What is required are plans to store the flood water.

  6. Everhopeful
    May 27, 2021

    JR…have you stopped to think how many fewer species there will be when Tory building plans come to fruition? The acres and acres and acres of fields already built on…imagine all the foxes, badgers, squirrels, moles….all dispossessed.
    But then governments are very good at dispossession aren’t they?
    And of course the tories have needlessly slaughtered many badgers and the left is keen to wipe out grey squirrels.
    And probably 5G will kill many more species.

    1. DavidJ
      May 27, 2021

      +1

    2. Fedupsoutherner
      May 27, 2021

      Everhopeful. It’s very refreshing to see there are others that think as I do. I also worry about mammals and birds with the onslaught of development on our green belt. We keep hearing how our wildlife is in trouble and I’m not surprised when their homes are ripped apart and they are squeezed into smaller areas. It’s a dog eat dog scenario in the animal Kingdom and with less territory it only makes life worse for them. It’s a sad situation.

  7. Everhopeful
    May 27, 2021

    Worry about water?
    Worry about scarce resources?
    So pile in more and more people!
    And oh dear…our busy, busy Ministers.
    Busy doing what precisely? Working out how to cause us all more grief and suffering?

  8. Lester
    May 27, 2021

    Nationwide we have a rising population!

    That’s becoming more apparent by the day, when is Priti Useless Patel intending to do something about it and begin deporting illegal immigrants instead of rescuing them mid-channel after they’ve been escorted over by the French navy?

    The problem was highlighted by Nigel Farage

    1. glen cullen
      May 27, 2021

      +1

    2. anon
      May 29, 2021

      Human demands and needs drive demands on the environment. A standstill on all immigration is needed in conjunction with other measures relating to increasing domestic natural capacities. Anything else is using the agenda or events to advantage the “few”.

      Reduce immigration -win for the environment – all gov have to do is enforce the border.
      Reduce immigration- wages will rise & training opportunities.
      Carbon tax imports- domestic production and resillience increases. PPE , energy,manufacturing etc
      Monopolies & cartels based on law & rules – break them up and disrupt them.

  9. David Brown
    May 27, 2021

    I do recognise climate change is a major challenge
    However the move to all electric vehicles does concern me
    I hope some where there are answers to the alternatives for large heavy duty Diesel engines that are essential in some industries and the military.
    What alternatives are there for engines that propel army tanks, large agricultural tractors, industrial digging machinery and other types of equipment all currently driven by powerful Diesel engines?
    I’ve not seen any mention of these types of large essential industrial and military machines mentioned in the green agenda?
    Or is it just me?

    1. Peter2
      May 27, 2021

      You are quite correct DB
      Cars only amount to about 20% of CO2 in UK cities.
      Yet cars are he ones being targeted.
      In cities buses, trains, factory machinery, office heating, air con plants, restaurants stoves, home log and coal burning fires, river boats, construction equipment, lawn mowers, strimmers, scooters, mopeds, motorbikes, bbq’s and much more are the major causes.
      As well as your own list.
      We seem obsessed with restrictions on cars whereas action on other polluting things would have a more beneficial effect.

    2. glen cullen
      May 27, 2021

      Government and military vehicles are exempt the ban – the ban is only against the people and what they’re describing as for domestic use….I understand that there is a big loop-hole for commercial lorries, trains, ferries and aircraft to continue using petrol and diesel …once again it’s the working class who is going to take the hit

      1. glen cullen
        May 27, 2021

        I have no doubt that the owners of ‘supercars’ will identify them as a commercial vehicle and essential in their company

        1. Fred.H
          May 28, 2021

          most supercars are ‘look at me’ trophies and don’t do the job of moving occupants from A to B.

    3. Timaction
      May 27, 2021

      They’ll bring portable battery chargers onto the battlefield…..not. I’m afraid when the public start to be impacted when their cars are taken away, cant afford or service battery ones, boilers no longer allowed, who’s voting for the legacies?

      1. steve
        May 27, 2021

        Timaction

        Yes, Boris’s policies are real vote killers. The funny thing is neither he or his party can see it. They actually believe they’re going to be re-elected as if by some divine right.

        1. Fred.H
          May 28, 2021

          But governments don’t repeal the nonsense legislation, and rarely do much about the sliding slope towards dystopia.

        2. glen cullen
          May 28, 2021

          Correct – they still don’t get it, we voted Tory not because they’re better than Labour but because Labour where worse

    4. anon
      May 29, 2021

      The energy density per £ kg is a key metric as is the cost. Ship will move to fuel-cell electrical propulsion as weight is less of an issue & floating offshore wind produces the hydrogen to recharge the ships at suitable locations.
      Something is using advanced technology , note the tictoc UFO’s, whats powering those?

  10. DavidJ
    May 27, 2021

    The whole Green Crappery needs to be binned. Let’s concentrate on reducing real pollution and not spending vast sums of money on supposed events resulting from seriously flawed and manipulated “science”.

    1. glen cullen
      May 27, 2021

      Spot On

  11. btw
    May 27, 2021

    The Everhopeful posts as are the Andy posts as were the Lyn Atkinson posts are all weird.
    Its fairly obvious which are genuine public/constituent posts.
    If I can see it you can be sure others can.

  12. Real Poster
    May 27, 2021

    Our water company here in the South gave us all a rebate Only £20 but I was pleased

  13. forthurst
    May 27, 2021

    Almost three quarters of the British water industry is owned by foreign companies.. If the industry is so heavily regulated including on capital investment, it is surprising that foreign companies would be so keen to own it. Limiting capital investment prevents the foreigners investing into this country presumably to constrain on prices; however, under public ownership, the government can simply pay out of taxation and issue gilts or issue denominated water bonds for the payback period.

    For water, gas, electricity, and landlines, there is only one product, one trunk network and one conduit into premises needed so infrastructure should be publicly owned and private industry should build the infrastructure and supply the end user products. This means infrastructure can be built as and when needed and not when a private company thinks the investment has a sufficiently short payback period.

    Unfortunately, politicians are advised by people similarly educated to themselves when if the civil service was staffed with scientists and engineers, the politicians could be advised as to the folly of their ideas before they did lasting damage to the economy, like driving our steel and aluminium industry into foreign hands and thereby jeopardising the supply of essential raw materials to the motor and aerospace industries so that a government Arts graduate can engage in virtue signalling at COP26.

    1. SecretPeople
      May 28, 2021

      +1

  14. Ian Wragg
    May 27, 2021

    Your last sentence, no chance.
    This environmental rubbish ia being pushed by the UN and other global bodies. Of course the civil Serpents will gold plate any legislation to our detriment.
    On a side note I see the MOD are putting the 3 close support ships for the Navy out to international tender.
    Once again Britain hating officials lining the pockets of foreign companies to the detriment of ours.
    When are these shysters going to have their collars felt.
    I feel the 1990s poll tax riots will seem a doddle compared to the backlash when we can’t afford a car or to heat our homes.

    1. steve
      May 27, 2021

      Ian Wragg

      “This environmental rubbish ia being pushed by the UN and other global bodies.”

      …….relax Ian, our courageous and totally honest PM is bravely making a stand against them to defend our country and way of life.

      “When are these shysters going to have their collars felt.”

      ……not until everyone refuses to vote and refuses to fund their wages.

    2. SecretPeople
      May 28, 2021

      @Ian
      You make the same point as Forthurst: ‘driving our industry into foreign hands’

      I agree with you re the UN and I would say the WEF. This is not about environmentalism.

  15. Lifelogic
    May 27, 2021

    “For example, we need to know what the thinking is about the pace of carbon dioxide reduction”

    We need to know why on earth the governent want to reduce CO2 tree food. Also it is very clear that their proposed methods to reduce CO2 do nothing of the sort, they merely export CO2 production and damage the economy, total insanity. The committee on climate change need to be scrapped they are expensive, deluded economic & environmental vandals.

  16. steve
    May 27, 2021

    JR

    “How is that reconciled with the idea that we want a rapid transition to get rid of our existing fleet of petrol and diesel vehicles”

    JR, when you say ‘we’….to whom do you refer ? because I sure as heck don’t want Boris’ plans and I don’t know anyone who does.

  17. Lifelogic
    May 28, 2021

    No one sensible who actually understands the science, understands what Net Zero would cost everyone and the damage the mad agenda would do would want it.

  18. a-tracy
    May 28, 2021

    There are Cities that have shrunk a 48% decline in Liverpool for example.
    UN reports they are expecting an increase in population there but nothing like the level it was. Why were these Cities allowed to decline so much and the Countryside filled with what was called Liverpool and Manchester overspill?

    1. Harold Armitage
      May 29, 2021

      Who is buying all these new houses?

  19. Harold Armitage
    May 29, 2021

    State monopolies…are controlled by the state. Any failures of policy were down to the government of the day, Labour or Tory.
    It was the politicians mucked them up.
    Certain things need to be controlled by the state, others not.
    Has privatised rail come to anything? Nope!!!!!

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