House of Lords Science and Technology Committee report: Impact of noise and light pollution on human health

In July 2023 the House of Lords Science and Technology Committee published a report into the impact of noise and light pollution on human health. It found that while there is some evidence that both noise and light pollution are harmful to humans, there are significant gaps in research and understanding. This briefing looks at the definitions of noise and light pollution, current legislation and guidelines, and the committee’s report and subsequent government response.

House of Lords Science and Technology Committee report: Impact of noise and light pollution on human health

Commercial Organisations and Public Authorities Duty (Human Rights and Environment) Bill [HL]: HL Bill 17 of 2023–24

The Commercial Organisations and Public Authorities Duty (Human Rights and Environment) Bill [HL] is a private member’s bill introduced by Baroness Young of Hornsey (Crossbench). It would place due diligence obligations concerning human rights and the environment on businesses and public sector bodies. The House of Lords is scheduled to debate the bill at second reading on 10 May 2024.

Commercial Organisations and Public Authorities Duty (Human Rights and Environment) Bill [HL]: HL Bill 17 of 2023–24

Zoological Society of London (Leases) Bill: HL Bill 64 of 2023–24

The Zoological Society of London (Leases) Bill is a private member’s bill sponsored by Lord Randall of Uxbridge (Conservative). It would provide for the extension of the maximum lease available to the Zoological Society of London for land in Regent’s Park used by London Zoo. The House of Commons has passed the bill and it has cross-party support. The House of Lords is scheduled to debate the bill at second reading on 10 May 2024.

Zoological Society of London (Leases) Bill: HL Bill 64 of 2023–24
  • In Focus

    UN standards on the use of surveillance technology at protests

    The UN recently published a toolkit for law enforcement officials to promote and protect human rights in the context of peaceful protests. It includes key principles for the use of digital technologies in relation to protests. This comes at a time when there are debates around the use of live facial recognition technology in public spaces by police in England and Wales. The government supports developing it as a crime-fighting tool, but others are concerned about its impact on privacy and other rights.

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    AI in Weapon Systems Committee report: Proceed with caution

    A House of Lords special inquiry committee has recommended that the government proceeds with caution on the development and use of artificial intelligence in weapon systems. This includes adopting an operational definition for autonomous weapon systems and ensuring human control at all stages of such systems’ lifecycle. The government has committed to ensuring meaningful human control and accountability throughout the lifecycle of AI-enabled military systems, but not to adopting an operational definition.

  • In Focus

    UK-India relations: 2030 roadmap and future trade partnership

    The UK and India have a complex and multifaceted history. In recent years, their relationship has focused on political and economic cooperation. Both countries have agreed to a framework setting out future relations and are currently negotiating a free trade agreement. With India’s next general election scheduled to take place between April and June 2024, this briefing analyses the potential trajectory of UK-India relations.

  • In Focus

    Built Environment Committee report: Impact of environmental regulations on development

    The government has committed to increase house building and improve the UK’s infrastructure while also protecting and improving the natural environment. The balance between these two objectives has been considered by the House of Lords Built Environment Committee in a report on the impact of environmental regulations on development. This article summarises the committee’s conclusions and the government’s response ahead of a House of Lords debate on the report.

  • In Focus

    Horticultural Sector Committee report: ‘Sowing the seeds: A blooming English horticultural sector’

    In a report published in November 2023 the House of Lords Horticultural Sector Committee highlighted the importance of the horticultural sector to the UK. The report detailed impacts of the sector on the economy, food supply, wellbeing and net zero ambitions. However, it said the industry faced a number of challenges and was not being given the attention or support it deserved. The committee’s report listed 93 recommendations for the government to help the sector meet these challenges and realise its potential.

  • In Focus

    ‘Undergrounding’ electrical transmission cables

    There are 4,500 miles of overhead electricity transmission lines in England and Wales. This contrasts with just over 900 miles of underground cables. ‘Undergrounding’, the replacement of overhead cables with underground cables, is used in limited circumstances, such as in nationally designated landscapes. There have been calls for an increase in undergrounding. However, the government has pointed to several issues, including the higher cost of underground cables.

  • In Focus

    River pollution and the regulation of private water companies

    Only 14% of rivers in England have a good ecological status and none have a good chemical status. Agriculture, wastewater and diffuse urban pollution are the main sources of pollution affecting water bodies in England. In recent years, the failure of water companies to prevent sewage discharges has attracted attention, and questions have been asked about whether the government and bodies such as Ofwat and the Environment Agency are doing enough to regulate water companies and enforce environmental law.

  • In Focus

    Water and sewage companies: Executive remuneration

    Following concern over several issues including pollution and poor customer service, the remuneration of senior executives in the water industry has come under scrutiny. Ofwat, the economic regulator of the sector, has announced tighter measures on water company executive bonuses when they have not been sufficiently earned. Ofwat is also to consult on measures to ban water company executives from receiving bonuses if a company has committed serious criminal breaches.

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