The Government faced a humiliating defeat last night as peers voted to support a move the UK Infrastructure Bank supports eco-friendly schemes.
The House of Lords voted by 182 to 153, majority 29, for a legislative change to specifically include the circular economy and nature-based solutions in projects financed by the institution.
The UK Infrastructure Bank Bill will put the organisation, currently operating on an interim basis, on a legal footing.
The Leeds-based bank, set up to invest in infrastructure projects using public and private cash, has been set two main goals of helping to tackle climate change and support regional and local economic growth.
It was created to replace the European Investment Bank (EIB) following Brexit.
Proposing the amendment to the Bill, former Lord Speaker Baroness Hayman, a director and co-chair of Peers for the Planet, said: “Explicitly stating that nature may play a part in infrastructure projects which realise the bank’s objectives would provide the confidence and the clarity needed to give momentum to the development of these solutions.
“Similarly, adopting circular economy structures within the definition should be uncontroversial and a signal of how infrastructure projects may be approached.”
Labour frontbencher Baroness Jones of Whitchurch said the change “would make it clear that the definition of infrastructure projects should be widened to include nature-based solutions, rather than just concrete and metal”.
“The amendment also embeds the principle of the circular economy, putting greater emphasis on our scarce resources through better reuse, repair, recycling and remanufacturing.”Baroness Jones of Whitchurch
Responding, Baroness Penn argued the proposed changes to the definition of infrastructure in the Bill were not needed.
The Tory frontbencher said: “The Government are confident and, through our review of the bank’s environmental objectives, have sought third-party views to ensure that the definition we have included covers nature-based solutions.
“The bank’s strategic plan also makes clear its commitment to supporting the development of a circular economy.”
The Government went on to suffer a further defeat by peers demanding the bank must take account of the levelling-up agenda.
The Lords backed by 172 to 158, majority 14, a measure aimed at ensuring the institution targets investment in a way that improves productivity, pay, jobs and living standards and reduces economic disparities between nations and regions within the UK.
The changes made to the Bill by the Lords will be considered by MPs when the Bill is sent to the Commons, where the Government has a majority.