Tag Archives: Defra

Could fines be the green watchdog’s sharpest teeth?

watchdog.jpgThis post is by Andy Jordan and Brendan Moore, who are respectively the co-chair and manager of the Brexit&Environment academic network.

The EU Withdrawal Bill has finally received Royal Assent. Around 200 hours were spent debating it. These discussions clarified some aspects of governance post-Brexit, but left many others open, chiefly those around the enforcement powers of the proposed green watchdog.

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Let’s not lose sight of the big picture: “green Brexit” is impossible without force of law

Hourglass, concept of timeA year on from the prime minister’s letter invoking Article 50, the Brexit hourglass is now half full, or half empty depending on your political disposition. Optimist or pessimist, Leaver or Remainer, the fact is there is now less time for Theresa May and her enthusiastic Environment Secretary Michael Gove to deliver on their promise of a “green Brexit”. Read more

Why does Michael Gove want to treat farmers and water companies differently?

gove smallMichael Gove was in pugnacious form in his address to last week’s annual Water UK City Conference. Pulling no punches, his subjects included water company abuse of monopoly power, the use of offshore companies and complex financial engineering, and the privileging of shareholders at the expense of the UK’s billpayers, taxpayers and the environment. It would be no surprise if, in the aftermath, a number of bruised industry executives were tempted to beat a retreat to their Cayman Island offices so criticised by Gove. Read more

The prime minister’s environment speech must herald a shift to restore nature

35894018871_3a2b1e0cdb_bTomorrow, Theresa May will deliver a major speech on the environment, it will be the first keynote environment speech delivered by a British prime minister since Tony Blair did so in 2000. David Cameron might have hugged huskies in the Arctic but, in practice, the environment as a whole was not a top priority for him (although he did address the UN on climate and gave a small speech on energy efficiency). Blair also delivered a major speech specifically on climate in 2004.

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How to improve the balance between UK nature conservation and food production

Eurasian skylark. Skylark seated in a rape field.This post is by Claire Feniuk, land use policy officer at the RSPB.

If Brexit has taught us anything, it’s that people don’t like compromise, they really much prefer to have their cake and eat it. This week, I was invited to join a panel discussion at a Defra Evidence event hosted by the Royal Society, to give my thoughts on the trade-offs between nature conservation and food production. Read more

Is business deregulation putting environmental safeguards at risk?

big ben and tree

This post is by Donal McCarthy, an economist at the RSPB with a special interest in regulatory reform and its implications for the environment. He recently co-authored a report assessing the performance of voluntary (ie self-regulatory or co-regulatory) alternatives to regulation in delivering on public policy objectives.

Over recent years, political concerns about the costs of regulation to business have risen in prominence, with accusations that rules, such as those protecting rare species and habitats, are placing ridiculous costs on business and the wider economy.

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Boris’s big failure: why is London still killing its citizens?

Emissions of a starting diesel engineA little over five years ago, my daughter was born in central London, in an area where the nearest air quality monitoring station recorded particulates as having reached dangerous levels 55 times that year. When 35 bad days are exceeded, the UK falls foul of European air rules, which means it faces court cases and fines until the problem is rectified. Read more

The story of the voles, the ditch and the prime minister

A little wild water vole eating some juicy blackberries looking at the cameraThis post is by conservationist and blogger Miles King. A version first appeared on his blog.

Those who believe that nature is important and that, for it to be better protected from the activities of people, the best approach is to gather evidence – scientific evidence – analyse it and present it to those in power, should heed this story. Read more

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