The Tories have revealed the latest stage of their plan to reduce the United Kingdom to rubble by the time of the next general election – and it’s about harming our rivers again.
Having already filled England’s waterways – among others – with disease-carrying sewage, Housing Secretary Michael Gove is scrapping “nutrient neutrality” rules that mean local authorities should not approve any new development that may add to river nutrients such as phosphates and nitrates, through wastewater from new homes or run-off from building sites.
This could lead to a build-up of algae and other plants that could choke off aquatic life in our rivers.
Just have a think about that. The Tories announce a bonanza for house-building, then all the river life dies, with a knock-on effect that hits the whole UK eco-system. What good will a few extra homes do then?
It makes a hypocrite of Gove, who was talking up higher environmental standards in 2018:
2018: Michael Gove, "There's no point in having high environmental standards if you allow them to be undercut"
2023: "England’s rivers at risk as Michael Gove rips up rules on new housing" pic.twitter.com/gXcff7PwaH
— Farrukh (@implausibleblog) August 29, 2023
Oh: Gove and the Tories are lying about the reason for doing it.
Builders say the current rules mean they have been forced to put 120,000 homes on hold – but it seems this is only because they don’t want to mitigate new nutrient loads caused by new populations in housing, onsite or elsewhere within the same catchment, by investing in new wetlands or by creating buffer zones along rivers and other watercourses.
Builders complained that doing so was costly and time-consuming; they delayed new housebuilding because the environmental protection they were being asked to implement would bite into their profits a bit, and take a bit of time to do. They never mention that not doing anything at all means an even longer delay.
Ministers launched a mitigation scheme in 2022 under which complaining builders were allowed to buy “credits” to gain approval for their schemes. They then complained that the process of purchasing such credits has occasionally led to unintended consequences like buying up farmland to take it out of use in an attempt to reduce water run-off.
So this is a plan to kill off the UK’s river life, for the sake of builders’ profits.
How absolutely, utterly despicable. It’s a new low for a government that may now best be compared to the most virulent, toxic disease you know.
As Katie-Jo Luxton, director of conservation at the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, said:
If nutrient neutrality rules are scrapped, pollution will accumulate unchecked and our rivers face total ecological collapse.
Total ecological collapse. That’s what Michael Gove (and Therese Coffey, the Environment Secretary who supports this lunacy) and, it seems, the UK house-building industry wants.
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