'You lie, and you lie, and you lie again': RSPB slams Rishi Sunak, Michael Gove and Therese Coffey

Rishi Sunak (L), Michael Gove and Therese Coffey are called liars by the RSPB. Credit: RSPB

A leading UK wildlife charity has branded top politicians as 'liars' after the government announced it would scrap a piece of legislation which protected rivers.

The RSPB put out a series of posts on X, formerly known as Twitter, with a picture of the Prime Minister, Michael Gove and Therese Coffey, with "liars!" stamped across them in bold red text.

The charity also tagged the trio in its social media post and wrote: "You said you wouldn’t weaken environmental protections.

"And yet that’s just what you are doing. You lie, and you lie, and you lie again. And we’ve had enough."

In the thread, the wildlife charity highlighted promises made by the government to protect the environment which, it says, turned out to be "lies".

Charity boss Beccy Speight has since stated that she did not approve of the social media post labelling government ministers as "liars".

Speaking to BBC Radio 4, she said: “The reason that we issued our apology is that we do believe that the nature of public discourse does matter and that we have a role to play in that, and that we campaign on policy, not on people.

“So, the framing of that tweet, where we called out individual people, we felt was incorrect and inappropriate, and we apologise for that.”

It comes after ministers were accused of giving up on Britain's "sickly, sewage-infested rivers" with a new plan to scrap anti-pollution housebuilding rules in parts of England.

The government announced on Wednesday it is removing EU laws on nutrient neutrality, which it says will allow over 100,000 new homes to be built after their completion was held up by the legislation.

Nutrient neutrality rules were put in place to ensure the environment is not polluted by materials created by new building projects.

Rishi Sunak insists he has a 'proud track record on tackling climate change' after committing to relax anti-pollution housebuilding rules

While the government admits "nutrients entering our rivers are a real problem," it claims the impact made by new homes is "very small".

In its X post, the RSPB described the removal of the nutrient neutrality rule as "the first reversal in environmental legislation for decades".

It said: "All the while you have pretended to be a government that cares about nature. It’s now very patently clear that you do not."

A government spokesperson said: “We’ve always been clear we will never compromise our high standards and we are fully committed to our ambitious and legally binding commitments on the environment.  

“The reforms we’ve set out will see us tackle pollution at source in a way that these legacy laws never addressed through a significant package to restore waterways and leave our environment in a better state than we found it.

"This will see us more than offset the negligible impact of new homes on levels of nutrients, by doubling the investment for Natural England to tackle nutrients, bringing this to £280 million, drawing up bespoke plans to restore nature in the most affected areas, and providing more support than ever to help farmers reduce pollution from essential agriculture."

What are the 'lies' the RSPB claims the politicians have made?

  • The 2019 Tory party manifesto pledged to deliver "the most ambitious environmental programme of any country on earth".

  • In Rishi Sunak's first speech as prime minister in October 2022, he said in his manifesto that he would "protect the environment".

  • On 17 August 2022, Sunak said he was "absolutely committed to protecting our environment for future generations" in a speech to the Conservative Environment Network.

  • Therese Coffey said she was clear in parliament about the government’s “commitment to uphold environmental protections.” in a letter to The Office for Environmental Protection on 25 July 2023.

  • Michael Gove pledged the government would “do all we can to protect our precious natural environment.” when he was environment secretary.

  • In July 2019 Mr Gove told stake holders at Kew Gardens of how protecting the environment was a critical duty of government.

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