In her Mansion House speech in March 2017 the prime minister said “As we leave the EU we will uphold environmental standards and go further to protect our shared natural heritage”. But her speech yesterday appears to ignore the government’s commitments to improve and not just maintain standards.
On the face of it the commitment that “there will be no change in the level of environmental protection when we leave the EU” should be reassuring as the government has repeatedly said that standards will not be weakened by Brexit. But no change infers no improvement which, when facing an environmental crisis, seems very wide of the mark. Read more
This week I gave evidence to the Liaison Committee, which comprises the chairs of all of parliament’s select committees. It is looking into the effectiveness and influence of the select committee system.
Select committees perform a vital role in holding government to account, scrutinising legislation and providing a forum to explore policy issues in a cross-party setting.
They mainly operate by holding inquiries into specific issues, inviting written submissions and hearing oral evidence from witnesses who are expert or experienced in the issues before the inquiry. Read more
It’s hard to ignore the findings and recommendations of the hard-hitting global assessment of nature led by the UN’s Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES). Its stark finding is that nature is declining globally at rates unprecedented in human history and the health of ecosystems on which we and all other species depend is deteriorating more rapidly than ever. Read more
A cross-party group of MPs has called for the draft Environment Bill to be strengthened. The Environmental Audit Committee’s report follows its inquiry into the draft Environment Bill published in December. The committee doesn’t pull its punches and demands urgent action to plug gaps in environmental protection. Read more
Yesterday, the government published draft clauses which will form the backbone of the first environment bill for twenty years. This is, without doubt, a historic moment and a chance for the government to deliver its commitment to leave the environment in a better state for future generations. Read more
This blog was first published by Business Green.
On 6 November, the Environmental Audit Committee published the government’s response to its report into the 25 year environment plan and Defra’s consultation from earlier this year on environmental principles and governance. Read more
Something quite momentous happened on 18 July. The prime minister announced the first dedicated environment bill for over twenty years. Have no doubt that this is as major a policy announcement as they come, although it might easily have been missed as it was tucked away in an answer to a question on air quality when Theresa May was grilled by select committee chairs on their subject areas. Luckily this tweet sealed the deal and the announcement is now common knowledge and an important platform from which to build.
The EU (Withdrawal) Bill is rapidly approaching the end of its parliamentary journey, but it does so with a distinct whiff of unfinished business in relation to the environment.
This post was first published by Business Green.
It’s by now becoming a familiar refrain: we will consult on establishing a new, independent watchdog to hold the government to account. This commitment was first proposed by environment secretary Michael Gove in November, has been repeated many times since and was encapsulated in the Defra consultation document on environmental principles and governance published on 10 May.
When first announcing the government’s plans to legislate the UK’s withdrawal from the EU the prime minister assured the nation that the same rules and laws will apply on the day after exit as on the day before and that we will have a workable, certain, continuing system of law.
This really matters for the environment as 80 per cent of our environmental laws come from the EU and EU bodies have provided a vital degree of oversight and access to justice for UK citizens.