The House of Lords last night voted 203 to 156 against an amendment to the Levelling Up & Regeneration Bill that would have the effect of unblocking stalled housing developments in estuarial and river catchment areas.
Two week ago levelling up secretary Michael Gove announced plans to relax the so-called nutrient neutrality rules that have prevented an estimated 140,000 planned new houses from being built because of their potential impact on watercourses. [See our previous report for a fuller explanation of all this.]
However, in order to change the law, the government needed to persuade parliament. It failed.
Baroness (Sue) Hayman, the shadow spokesperson for levelling up, housing, communities and local government in the House of Lords, told the chamber: “It is abundantly clear that there are far better ways to build the new homes we need than at the expense of our precious environment… polluting our rivers is not a price we need to pay for sufficient housing supply.”
This was the nub of the debate.
The government will now need to bring back fresh legislation, starting again at the beginning of the legislative process, rather than tack an amendment on to legislation already in passage.