IEMA raise concerns over Environmental Principles and Governance Bill

1st June 2018

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Harriet Waters

The UK government’s proposed Environmental Principles and Governance Bill “lacks ambition” and will weaken protections that the country currently enjoys post-Brexit.

That is the initial position of global sustainability body IEMA, which has outlined three measures that must be included in the bill for it to achieve “equivalence” with existing protections.

These include establishing environmental principles in primary legislation, giving equivalent powers to a new body, and providing the basis to co-develop a UK framework for cross-national issues.

IEMA chief policy advisor, Martin Baxter, said: “The ambition for an environmental governance framework must be set at a higher level than it is today.

“Legislating to maintain the status quo won’t provide the underpinning legal framework we need to achieve long-term environmental goals – there are a number of points that need addressing.”

The proposed bill is designed to close a potential ‘governance gap’ for environmental protections after the UK leaves the EU, and also create new mechanisms to improve policy-making.

While IEMA praised the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) for this ambition, it said the bill would fall short in delivering the government’s 25-year Environment Plan.

In addition to the three steps needed to achieve equivalence with existing rules, IEMA proposes five-yearly updates to the 25-year plan based on independent advice.

It also suggests a fully funded five-year programme to ensure targets and milestone are met, while environmental monitoring and reporting should use modelling that is easy for the public to understand and access.

An overarching “duty of environmental responsibility” on public and private activity is also proposed, as is cross-Whitehall regulation, incentives and taxation to stimulate sustainable development and economic growth.

“There are three key changes required to achieve equivalence, and a number of underpinning principles we want to see embedded in the act,” Baxter continued.

“We look forward to working with Defra on the further development of the proposals before the draft bill is published.”

Image credit: iStock


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