Clause 35 - Environmental review

Part of Environment Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 3:15 pm on 5th November 2020.

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Photo of Alan Whitehead Alan Whitehead Shadow Minister (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy) (Energy and Climate Change), Shadow Minister (Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy) 3:15 pm, 5th November 2020

Indeed, my hon. Friend makes the point about specialist environmental expertise in a far better way than the Government did to the EFRA Committee. Among other things, the upper tribunal is not adversarial; it is, in effect, inquisitorial, allowing such expertise to come to grips with an issue in an atmosphere conducive to shining light on it, rather than the knock-down, drag-out fight between two sides of the High Court. The Government would be well advised to listen to her point carefully.

Again, this is not an issue on which we wish to divide the Committee, but we put a big question mark over why this decision has been made, which appears to go completely against the Government’s previous position, and whether the advantages that the Government think this change in procedure will have are not outweighed by the disadvantages that a number of people have raised, including my hon. Friend the Member for Newport West.

I suggest again that it would be good if the Government consulted further before deciding that this is how the Bill will be shaped. They need to reflect on whether there are a greater number of considerations against the change than for it and whether they are happy that, after passing through all stages in this House and the other place, the Bill will emerge in its final state with this provision intact.