In last week’s Talking Point Bill Wiggin proposed a prize, to be paid for by others, to encourage volunteers to combat flooding. The work of volunteers of all sorts is certainly vital after Government cuts to local authority budgets.
However, your readers should know that Mr Wiggin’s other recent environmental efforts have been directed at trying to roll back the levels of protection we enjoyed in the European Union. In the Parliamentary debate on the Environmental Bill on 26th January, he was alone in proposing two wrecking amendments. They replaced obligations on planning authorities to take account of phosphate levels in rivers and protection of important habitats with discretion to ignore these issues. They followed his interview with the Hereford Times on 4th December arguing that this would make housebuilding easier. In Parliament he claimed to be reversing law “imposed by a Dutch court” although later he admitted that Herefordshire policy followed updated legal advice from Natural England. The way to prevent pollution is to enforce regulations, not to weaken planning law as Mr Wiggin wanted.
To make amends, Mr Wiggin should question the Government’s decision to leave full implementation of new curbs on exports of plastic waste to developing countries until further debate on the Environment Bill. The new rules, agreed under the Basel Convention on Hazardous Wastes, were partly inspired by David Attenborough’s series Blue Planet II showing plastic embedded in marine life. The EU has already strengthened and implemented the rules, but the UK is dawdling.