Clause 35 - Environmental review

Part of Environment Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 3:45 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) 3:45 pm, 5th November 2020

I hope that, after that plethora of votes, everyone knows where we have got to. I think and hope that I know, but we shall see whether I am speaking to the right amendment.

Amendment 121 would give the OEP’s relationship with the upper tribunal—in this case, the court—a greater amount of leeway over a remedy that could be granted by the court on judicial review. Clause 35(8) states that the upper tribunal—here it is the High Court

“may grant any remedy that could be granted by the court on a judicial review other than damages, but only if satisfied that granting the remedy would not—

(a) be likely to cause substantial hardship”,

and so on. The amendment would delete the second part of subsection (8), thereby enabling a remedy to be granted without that caveat on its operation. We think that would strengthen the proceedings. Similarly, amendment 80 would allow the upper tribunal to issue financial penalties where it thinks fit.

Amendment 184—this is important; I am particularly concerned about it—would allow remediation requirements, so that the net environmental position would be returned to where it was before the action took place. One important principle regarding environmental damage and various other activities is that such damage should not go unnoticed or be left by the wayside, and those who cause it should be required to put things back to their original state. If bodies undertake planning activity that causes environmental disturbance, they should be required to put something else in place or remedy the damage. The amendment would allow remediation requirements to be introduced, so that the offending body would be required to put the issue right. That important principle ought to be in the Bill.