IEMA reacts to Queen's Speech

13th May 2021

Web queens state opening 2019 credit house of lords 2019 roger harris 49242713721 3c4f650dec o

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Denise Johnstone

Sustainability body IEMA has welcomed the UK government's commitment to a range of environmental ambitions outlined during the Queen's Speech this week.

These ambitions include a new framework for legally-binding environmental targets and delivering an independent Office for Environmental Protection (OEP) through the long-awaited Environment Bill.

While welcoming the confirmation that the bill will continue its course, IEMA's director of policy and external affairs, Martin Baxter, said that it must receive royal assent “as soon as possible”.

“The natural environment cannot wait a moment longer and we need the new environmental governance process in place to ensure we protect and enhance our natural capital and ecosystems,” he continued.

“There is much work to do to establish long-term environmental targets, integrate environmental principles into whole-of-government policy making, and ensure that the new ‘green watchdog’, the OEP, sets off on the right footing.

“IEMA is working with government in each of these areas, and will continue to do so to tackle the significant environmental challenges we face.”

The UK government also used the Queen's Speech to commit to bringing forward a new bill that will provide a lifetime learning guarantee, aimed at increasing skills and training for young people and adults.

A net-zero strategy will break down the UK's long-term net-zero goal on a sector-by-sector basis, while a range of planning reforms will pass into law through a new Planning Bill.

Moreover, the government promised to deliver high animal welfare standards by bringing forward plans to improve standards and eradicate cruel practices through an Action Plan for Animal Welfare and legislation.

Baxter continued: “2021 is a landmark year for the environment and climate change, with COP26 taking place in Glasgow in November. We need to put sustainability at the heart of the COVID-19 recovery.

“Skills for a sustainable economy and the transition to a net-zero future require investment in learning, upskilling the UK workforce so that everyone can play their part and benefit from the opportunities of the green industrial revolution – in this context, the commitment to bring forward a new bill to provide a lifetime learning guarantee is welcomed.

“On the announcement that a new Planning Bill will be introduced to speed up development, consent must be consistent with delivering the long-term environmental targets and improvements set through the Environment Bill.

“High-quality impact assessment that integrates social and environmental considerations is critical to ensuring development is sustainable.”

Image credit: State Opening December 2019 by House of Lords 2019 / Roger Harris is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0.

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