Now that we have left the EU, we should pass a gold-standard Environment Bill with bold, swift action to cut carbon, safeguard habitats and protect declining species.
However, at present, the Bill is nowhere near bold enough to match the scale of the environmental and ecological crisis that we are facing.
I am also concerned that the environmental watchdog, the Office for Environmental Protection, lacks independence and that the UK Government has actively weakened its powers and scope.
The link between coronavirus deaths and air quality means that action to improve our air is more critical than ever. I support setting a clear and coherent target in the Bill in line with internationally recognised World Health Organization guidelines on air quality.
Tree planting has an important role to play in reaching net zero emissions through locking in carbon, yet, the UK has some of the lowest forest cover in Europe. I believe the UK Government should be required to publish a tree strategy for England and produce targets for the protection, restoration and expansion of trees and woodland.
This once-in-a-lifetime Bill should show real ambition and deliver on restoring our natural environment. This is why, throughout the passage of the Environment Bill, my Opposition colleagues and I have supported amendments to improve this Bill and deliver the policies that will preserve our planet and protect our environment, including on environmental principles and commitments, air quality, a tree strategy, the waste hierarchy and habitat net gain.
These amendments have been repeatedly voted down by the Government, despite their previous commitment to lead the world in environmental standards post-Brexit. However, I can assure you that we will continue to support amendments that strengthen the Bill at the remaining stages.