Tory MP seeks safeguards for car owners in latest environmental protection bill

Conservative MP Sir Geoffrey Clifton-Brown

Conservative MP Sir Geoffrey Clifton-Brown - Credit:

Measures in the government’s new environmental protection legislation could be used to ban people from driving cars, a Conservative MP has claimed.

Conservative MP Sir Geoffrey Clifton-Brown (The Cotswolds) said the so-called precautionary principle in the Environment Bill – where actions could be taken by the government to stop environmental damage – could restrict people’s freedoms.

During a report stage debate on the Bill, he told the Commons: “The precautionary principle is a whole new way for the government to legislate on environmental matters which can be applied to a huge range of environmental principles.

“However in application, it could be used in the extreme, for example, to introduce policies such as stopping people from driving motorcars on the basis that they damage the environment.”

Sir Geoffrey said his amendment would force the government to “clearly define” the use of the precautionary principle.

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He said: “The precautionary principle is not consistently applied to different activity, it is frequently used to constrain certain activities where any impacts are deemed to be unacceptable.”

He added: “I think this principle could well become a precept to people’s freedom in the future and we may well rue the day that we put this particular provision in the Bill.”

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