Rishi Sunak blasts ‘flip-flopping’ Keir Starmer for chasing a ‘cheap political hit’ after Labour vows to block plans to build thousands more homes by ditching EU-era pollution rules as PM faces defeat in House of Lords tonight
Rishi Sunak today blasted ‘flip-flopping’ Sir Keir Starmer after Labour vowed to block his plans to scrap EU-era environmental rules to boost housebuilding.
The Prime Minister claimed the ‘principles-free’ Labour leader was chasing a ‘cheap political hit’ by threatening to defeat the Government in the House of Lords.
Peers are set to vote tonight on a bid by ministers to relax Brussels-originated ‘nutrient neutrality’ requirements for developers.
The Government has claimed easing the laws will ‘unblock’ more than 100,000 homes between now and 2030 in an £18billion boost to the economy.
But Labour said it will block the ‘reckless and irresponsible’ proposal, which they claim would increase river pollution and threaten the environment.
Rishi Sunak blasted ‘flip-flopping’ Sir Keir Starmer after Labour vowed to block his plans to scrap EU-era environmental rules in a bid to boost housebuilding
The Prime Minister claimed the ‘principles-free’ Labour leader was chasing a ‘cheap political hit’ by threatening to defeat the Government in the House of Lords
The Government has claimed easing ‘nutrient neutrality’ rules will ‘unblock’ more than 100,000 homes between now and 2030 in an £18billion boost to the British economy
Current rules mean developers building new homes in protected areas are required to provide mitigations to ensure no new additional nutrients make it into rivers and lakes.
An increase in nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorus in waterways can cause algal blooms that deprive other plants and animals of light and oxygen.
The Government has claimed that, although nutrients entering rivers is ‘a real problem’, the contribution made by new homes is ‘very small’.
They have proposed to ‘do away’ with nutrient neutrality rules in changes to the Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill, which is going through the Lords.
Alongside a relaxation of the rules, ministers have promised to introduce ‘new environmental measures’ to ‘tackle pollution at source and restore habitats’.
Labour’s deputy leader Angela Rayner and shadow environment secretary Steve Reed have confirmed their party’s opposition to the Government’s plan.
This is despite Lisa Nandy, recently removed as shadow levelling up secretary, housing and communities secretary by Sir Keir, previously signalling Labour would support the proposal.
In an article in The Times today, Ms Rayner and Mr Reed wrote: ‘We must build the homes people need while also protecting the environment we live in. The two are not mutually exclusive.
‘The Government’s proposed solution to this challenge is deeply problematic.
‘It would allow councils to ignore environmental regulations and authorise new housing development without mitigation for environmental harm on the basis that the nutrient pollution problem will be solved by other means.
‘Their approach would not only significantly weaken environmental law and increase river pollution but would fatally undermine the emerging market in nutrient pollution reduction that developers are already making use of.’
Labour’s opposition to the plans significantly increases the chances of the Government being defeated on the proposal in a Lords vote tonight.
Liberal Democrat and Green Party peers are already opposed to the plans, as are Tory rebels such as former minister Lord Goldsmith.
Mr Sunak clashed with Sir Keir ahead of tonight’s vote during Prime Minister’s Question’s in the Commons this afternoon.
He told the Labour leader: ‘Today this Government is taking action to reform defective EU laws to unlock over 100,000 homes – boosting our economy, supporting jobs and ensuring that we can realise the aspirations of homeowners.
‘He [Sir Keir] talks about trust – he tried in this House to talk the talk on housebuilding. But at the first sign of a cheap political hit, what did he do? He’s caved in.
‘Rather than make right long-term decisions for the country, he’s taken the easy way out. It is typical of the principles-free, conviction-free type of leadership that he offers.
‘Flip-flopping from being a builder to a blocker, the British public can’t trust a word he says.’
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