IEMA Welcomes Government’s Intention to Plug the Governance Gap – But Says Needs Greater Ambition

The UK Government’s proposed Environmental Principles and Governance Bill lacks ambition and doesn’t achieve “equivalence” with existing protections.

IEMA has outlined its initial position on Defra’s current Environmental Principles and Governance consultation, and welcomes the Government’s intention to fix the environmental “governance gap” which will open when the UK exits the EU in 2019. However, an IEMA spokesperson said the proposals fall short of the Government’s commitment not to weaken environmental protection and will fail to deliver Government’s ambitions set out in the 25 Year Environment Plan.

Martin Baxter, IEMA’s Chief Policy Advisor, said today: “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.”

In its briefing and initial position statement on the draft proposals, IEMA says that it fully supports the broad aim to fix the post-Brexit environmental governance gap, and Government’s intention to leave the environment in a better state over the next 25 years than today. However, IEMA has firmly stated that the published Bill must demonstrate far more ambition if it is to provide an effective framework for environmental enhancement.

There are a number of points that need addressing if the planned Bill is to achieve its goals” said Baxter. “There are three key changes required to even achieve equivalence, and a number of underpinning principles we want to see embedded in the Act. We look forward to working with Defra on the further development of the proposals before the draft Bill is published”.

Among the initial recommendations to meet the required level of ambition, IEMA is calling for:

  • Five-yearly updates to the 25 Year Plan aimed at achieving the goals and targets, based on independent advice
  • A fully funded and resourced five-year programme of activity that will deliver actions to meet targets and milestones
  • Improved monitoring and reporting on the state of the environment using mapping and modelling that is more accessible and understandable to the public
  • An overarching “duty of environmental responsibility” on public and private activity affecting the environment that changes the default
  • Cross-Whitehall regulation, incentives and taxation designed to protect the environment and stimulate genuinely sustainable development and economic growth

IEMA has also stated that as a minimum, and to achieve equivalence, the proposed Act needs to:

i. Establish environmental principles in primary legislation

ii. Provide equivalent powers to the new environmental body, including the power to enforce environmental law

iii. Provide the basis to co-develop a UK framework to manage those aspects of the

environment that cross national boundaries.

Click here to read IEMA’s briefing and full response to the Environmental Principles and Governance consultation.


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