In parliament: New committee outlines inquiries

29th July 2015

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  • Central government


Caroline Thomson

New chair of the Environmental Audit Committee Huw Irranca Davies outlines its plans for government scrutiny.

Our actions over the next five years of this parliament could be critical if we want to protect the global environment and humanity’s place in it. Domestically there is much to do and the Environmental Audit Committee will be a positive force, not only by scrutinising the government’s policies on the environment and sustainable development, but by helping to set the agenda and creating space for sometimes difficult decisions.

The new committee met for the first time just before the summer recess and we have hit the ground running with two important inquiries. The first will explore the impact that the government’s fiscal and legislative agenda will have on sustainable development. It will also ask what metrics the committee should be using to measure the government’s environmental performance. This early work is particularly pertinent in view of a recent flurry of announcements by the government, which have raised questions over the coherence of a vision and policies for sustainable development, and what success will look like at the end of the parliament.

The second inquiry will focus on the environmental concerns relating to the recommendations by the Airports commission for a third runway at Heathrow. Our inquiry will assess the scale of the environmental challenge should the case for a third runway be accepted, and the potentially wide-ranging measures needed to address air quality, climate change and noise.

When parliament returns in September, the committee will agree further work and we are seeking your views on the areas of sustainable development and environmental protection we should be looking into.

I hope that readers of the environmentalist can feed into our inquiries to help us shape our sustainable future, hold the government to account, and encourage ambition and global leadership at this critical time.


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