Rishi Sunak slams 'flip-flopping' Keir Starmer as Labour leader opposes plan to scrap eco rule to boost housebuilding

13 September 2023, 14:57 | Updated: 13 September 2023, 15:00

Rishi Sunak slammed Keir Starmer for Labour's changing stance on nutrient neutrality
Rishi Sunak slammed Keir Starmer for Labour's changing stance on nutrient neutrality. Picture: Alamy

By Kit Heren

Rishi Sunak has hit out at Sir Keir Starmer for planning to block a plan to scrap an EU green rule to boost housebuilding.

Listen to this article

Loading audio...

The House of Lords will vote on a plan to get rid of "nutrient neutrality" requirements for developers.

Labour has said it will block the proposal, which they call "deeply problematic".

The Tories claim that softening requirements will boost the economy by £18 billion and allow developers to build an extra 100,000 homes by 2030.

Rishi Sunak reacted to Labour's vow to block the plans by calling Sir Keir "principles-free" and said he was chasing "a cheap political hit".

Read more: Sunak refuses to commit to triple lock on pensions being in Tory election manifesto

Read more: Another blow to Rwanda migrant plan as flights set to be delayed 'until December'

Rishi Sunak
Rishi Sunak. Picture: Alamy

Nutrient neutrality means developers have to make sure that building new homes in environmentally protected areas does not cause nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorus to enter waterways.

These nutrients can cause algal blooms that damage plants and animals.

The Conservatives say that this is a "real problem" but claim that housebuilding is not a major contributor to the issue.

But Labour said that "we must build the homes people need while also protecting the environment we live in. The two are not mutually exclusive."

Sir Keir Starmer
Sir Keir Starmer. Picture: Alamy

Writing in the Times on Wednesday morning, Angela Rayner and shadow environment secretary Steve Reed said: "The Government’s proposed solution to this challenge is deeply problematic.

"It would allow councils to ignore environmental regulations and authorise new housing development without mitigation for environmental harm on the basis that the nutrient pollution problem will be solved by other means.

"Their approach would not only significantly weaken environmental law and increase river pollution but would fatally undermine the emerging market in nutrient pollution reduction that developers are already making use of."

Algal bloom on the Thames
Algal bloom on the Thames. Picture: Alamy

Former shadow housing secretary Lisa Nandy had previously suggested Labour would support the plan.

Reacting to the article, Mr Sunak told Sir Keir at Prime Minister's Questions: "Today this Government is taking action to reform defective EU laws to unlock over 100,000 homes – boosting our economy, supporting jobs and ensuring that we can realise the aspirations of homeowners.

"He [Sir Keir] talks about trust – he tried in this House to talk the talk on housebuilding. But at the first sign of a cheap political hit, what did he do? He's caved in.

"Rather than make right long-term decisions for the country, he's taken the easy way out. It is typical of the principles-free, conviction-free type of leadership that he offers.'Flip-flopping from being a builder to a blocker, the British public can't trust a word he says."

More Latest News

See more More Latest News

Rishi Sunak will call for an "era of action" on the climate

Sunak to call for 'era of action' on climate at Cop28 - despite watering down green measures at home

Released prisoner

Israeli military confirms release of six more hostages in Gaza Strip

Omid Scobie has insisted he never sent out a book including two royals' names amid racism allegations

Dutch translator on Omid Scobie's Endgame insists she was sent manuscript with two royals' names in race row

Lloyds banking group is closing more branches in 2024.

Lloyds group to close 45 branches as Labour pledges to keep banks back on the high street - is your local affected?

Hall and Oates

Hall and Oates row: Judge extends pause on Oates’ sale of stake in business

Hamas has claimed Israel is refusing to take back the bodies of the Bibas family

Hamas releases propaganda video of father of 10-month-old Kfir Bibas saying Israel refuses to take his family's bodies

Police clashed with Legia Warsaw fans

Three officers injured as Polish football fans unleash 'planned and systematic violence' on police ahead of Villa game

William and Kate dazzled on the red carpet as they brushed off Scobie's claims

William and Kate all smiles on red carpet as royals brush aside storm around Omid Scobie's book Endgame

Opec sign

Saudi Arabia extends cut in oil it sends to world in bid to boost prices

An 18-month row over pay, job security and conditions has come to an end, for now

'Provoke us again and we will respond in kind': Mick Lynch issues new threat to government after pay deal halts strikes

Matt Hancock appeared at the Covid inquiry on Thursday

Cummings a 'malign actor' and 'missed opportunities': 11 revelations from Matt Hancock's Covid inquiry appearance

Phillip Hancock

Man executed in Oklahoma over double killing in 2001

Milei has backed his country's claim to the Falklands

Britain 'stands firmly' with Falkland Islands as minister pays visit in fresh warning to Argentina's eccentric president

Matt Hancock gave evidence on Thursday.

Matt Hancock insists he is 'no liar' as he blames 'toxic culture' in No10 for Covid failings

Palestinians line up for food in Rafah, Gaza Strip

Tough talks ahead as Gaza ceasefire holds with more hostages freed

Caolan Gormley was convicted of an offence linked to the deaths of the 39 Vietnamese migrants

Last people smuggler in operation linked to deaths of 39 migrants in Essex lorry jailed for seven years