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Plans by the UK authorities to dilute guidelines on water air pollution to allow extra housebuilding have been defeated within the Home of Lords on Wednesday night time in a significant setback for Rishi Sunak’s administration.
The UK prime minister had proposed to take away EU-era “nutrient neutrality rules”, complaining that they have been blocking the development of as much as 100,000 new properties by the top of the last decade.
However the authorities was defeated by 203 votes to 156 over the problem within the higher home. Three Conservative friends voted in opposition to the federal government — alongside numerous opposition friends — together with Lord Deben, an ex-cabinet minister and former chair of the local weather change committee.
Angela Rayner, deputy chief of the Labour social gathering, mentioned the “flawed plan” had been “humiliatingly rejected” by the higher home of Parliament.
However Michael Gove, levelling-up secretary, mentioned: “Sir Keir Starmer [Labour leader] is trying to finish the dream of house possession for hundreds of households and younger folks together with his political game-playing.”
Over 60 native authorities have been ordered to limit housebuilding in sure areas by Pure England, a authorities company. The recommendation, primarily based on a earlier EU directive, was designed to forestall the air pollution of rivers by substances together with phosphates and nitrates.
However after complaints from the housebuilding business, ministers had sought to scrap these guidelines by way of an modification to the levelling-up and regeneration invoice at the moment going by way of parliament. The federal government promised to spend a whole lot of million kilos on mitigation measures corresponding to creating wetlands, planting woodlands and giving farmers grants to scale back run-off into rivers.
Nevertheless the plan prompted anger from environmental groups, who warned it might worsen water air pollution — regardless of the federal government’s insistence that housebuilders are accountable for lower than 1 per cent of vitamins coming into rivers and lakes.
Baroness Jenny Jones, a Inexperienced social gathering peer, advised the chamber: “We have been advised that there could be no reducing of environmental requirements in post-Brexit laws and there manifestly has been . . . even I might by no means have believed that the federal government might introduce such an act of environmental vandalism.”
By voting in opposition to the modification, friends have ensured that it can’t be reintroduced within the Home of Commons in the identical invoice given the laws has virtually reached the top of its passage by way of parliament.
Nevertheless, ministers might doubtlessly draw up new legal guidelines within the King’s Speech within the autumn to revive the plan.
The Labour social gathering had beforehand hinted that it might help the federal government’s proposals. However on Tuesday it issued its personal modification and mentioned it might vote in opposition to ministers’ plans.
The opposition claimed it had an alternate plan beneath which builders may very well be allowed to start out constructing properties earlier than nutrient neutrality plans have been put in place — after which be pressured to introduce measures to counter any environmental hurt earlier than the properties have been occupied.
Sunak, talking earlier on Wednesday at prime minister’s questions within the Home of Commons, accused Starmer — who has beforehand promised to be pro-development — of “flip-flopping” over the problem.
“It’s typical of the principles-free, conviction-free, management that he has, to flip-flop and go from a builder to a blocker,” he mentioned.
However the RSPB wildlife charity mentioned: “We’re delighted to see politicians of all events within the Home of Lords appearing for nature and guaranteeing our rivers and estuaries are protected by voting in opposition to the federal government’s proposals to scrap nutrient neutrality guidelines.”