On 10th November 2014, the Bishop of Lichfield, the Rt Revd Jonathan Gledhill, took part in a division of the House of Lords, on an amendment to the Government’s Infrastructure Bill.
Labour Peer Baroness Worthington moved amendment 113G, to insert the new clause Underground access: environmental protection, which sought to create new regulations for the extraction of oil and gas through the process known as fracking.
The Bishop of Lichfield voted ‘not content’. No bishop voted ‘content’.
There were Contents: 141 | Not Contents: 237 | Result: Government Win
On 10th November 2014, the Bishop of Chester, the Rt Revd Peter Forster, took part in the Report Stage of the Government’s Infrastructure Bill. He asked the Minister a number of questions regarding the UK’s carbon reduction commitment, carbon capture by power stations, and the UK’s strategy for oil and gas extraction. The amendments that the Bishop spoke to were withdrawn following the brief debate.
The Lord Bishop of Chester: My Lords, can I ask the Minister when she responds to comment on two points? First, if we are now to be committed in this legally strengthened way to the maximum economic exploration of our oil and gas reserves, how do the Government see that to be compatible with the commitment under the Climate Change Act to reduce our emissions to only 20% of the 1990 level by 2050 without also having a strategy for carbon capture and storage, which I think lies behind the amendment?
Secondly, the amendment refers to the economic extraction of our hydrocarbons—I have never yet heard any reliable estimate of what the additional cost will be of having carbon capture and storage on a typical power station, be it a coal station or a gas station. What level of increase per kilowatt hour—in a unit that can be easily understood—is anticipated if carbon capture and storage is required on such stations? That impacts on what is economically recoverable. Continue reading “Bishop of Chester presses Government on carbon capture during Infrastructure Bill debate”
On 5th November 2014, the Bishop of St Albans tabled an amendment to the Infrastructure Bill, during its Report Stage, which sought to hold the Government to its commitment to a zero-carbon homes strategy as originally envisaged, including removing exemptions for small construction companies and allowing construction companies to buy themselves out of their obligation to build zero-carbon homes. Following the debate on the amendment, assurances were given tat consultation on the commitment were ongoing, and the Bishop did not press it to a division of the House.
The Lord Bishop of St Albans: My Lords, in speaking to Amendment 108A, I should like to thank the noble Lord, Lord Berkeley, for co-sponsoring it. I bring forward this amendment out of concern that the standard proposed in the Bill is significantly lower than that already agreed through cross-industry consensus. I fear that an excessive focus on off-site carbon savings will undermine the effectiveness of the proposals and that an exemption for small sites will create confusion by causing the emergence of a two-tiered regulatory system. It is essential that housebuilders meets the carbon compliance standards that have already been agreed through cross-industry consensus. This was endorsed by the Government back in 2011 and strongly supported by around 70% of those responding to their consultation. I am therefore troubled by the proposal of a new on-site energy performance standard for zero-carbon homes that is lower than the one already agreed. It is not clear why this reduction is necessary. The proposed exemptions from the standard for homes built on small sites and for starter homes would also serve to undermine the main purpose behind the zero-carbon standard: namely, that of prioritising carbon reduction. It is to address the lack of measures necessary to realise the Government’s stated commitment to carbon neutrality that I have tabled this amendment which requires the previously agreed carbon compliance standard to be met on-site before allowable solutions can be undertaken. It also requires all homes to meet that standard, ensuring that no exemptions are allowed. Continue reading “Bishop of St Albans calls on Government to uphold its commitment to zero-carbon homes”
On 15th November 2014, three bishops voted on an amendment to the Infrastructure Bill, during its Report Stage. The amendment, tabled by Labour peer Lord Adonis, sought to create a National Infrastructure Commission, based on recommendations made by Sir John Armitt in his independent review into national infrastructure for the Labour Party.
The Bishop of Norwich, the Rt Revd Graham James, the Bishop of Portsmouth, the Rt Revd Christopher Foster, and the Bishop of St Albans, the Rt Revd Alan Smith, voted ‘content’ with the amendment. No bishop voted ‘not content’.
There were Contents: 195 | Not Contents: 235 | Result: Government Win.
On 5th November 2014, the Bishop of St Albans took part in a debate on an amendment to the Infrastructure Bill, which he co-sponsored with Baroness Royall of Blaisdon. The amendment sought to guarantee the protection of the Public Forest Estate, following the recommendations made by the Independent Panel on Forestry, which was chaired by the former Bishop of Liverpool, the Rt Revd James Jones. Following the debate on the amendment, the Government agreed to bring forward amendments to the Bill at Third Reading.
The Lord Bishop of St Albans: My Lords, I am glad to speak in support of this amendment proposed by the noble Baroness, Lady Royall. I am also glad to pay tribute to her persistence on this matter which I, too, believe is crucial. When the discussions about the future of the forestry estate have come before the public they have made their views absolutely clear that trees, woods and forests are a vital part of the make-up of the English countryside. Although they now cover only 9% of the land area of England, trees have an iconic place in our relationship with the landscape. Whether living in towns, cities, villages or hamlets, many people express affection and deep regard for the well-being of trees in the locality. Protecting the Public Forest Estate will bring many benefits to the public and the environment. I will mention three of them briefly. Continue reading “Bishop of St Albans co-sponsors amendment to protect Public Forest Estate”
On 15th July 2014, the Bishop of St Albans, the Rt Revd Alan Smith, spoke in support of amendments to the Government’s Infrastructure Bill, during its Committee Stage. The amendments, the the Bishop’s intervention, focused on forestry and the place of the public forest estate. The amendments were withdrawn at the end of the debate.
The Lord Bishop of St Albans: My Lords, an interest in forestry has brought me along today. I am hugely grateful to the noble Baroness, Lady Royall, for what she said; indeed, she made many of the points that I wanted to make. I will therefore say just one or two things. In starting, I have come hotfoot from the General Synod, where we had a debate last night on Magna Carta, which I had to read. I discovered that three of the clauses there are about bishops and barons bringing the Executive to account on the forests—in those days King John wanted to make them bigger so that he could take more land. I now find myself here as a Bishop among Barons and Baronesses, reflecting on that. Continue reading “Bishop of St Albans calls for action of protection the public forest estate”
“We need to get people in their own backyards to understand, participate in and support this kind of culture change, without which our whole aspiration to deal with climate change issues will fall very far short” – Bishop of Derby, 18/6/14
The Government’s Infrastructure Bill was debated at its Second Reading in the House of Lords on 18th June 2014. During the debate, the Bishop of Derby, Rt Rev Alastair Redfern, focused on community energy provisions and, drawing on local examples, the role that churches can play as intermediary institutions. More details on the Bill, which also contains provisions on transport, planning and housing, can be found here.