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Policy and Parliamentary Update
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August 2018

Posted By Phil Underwood, 15 August 2018

It's Summer Recess - Time to Revamp the Website

A busy time before the summer recess. This isn't parliament, but it isn't too far away.

As usual, the early summer months have seen a flurry of parliamentary activity ahead of recess; but ‘business as usual’ now includes Brexit, so this year’s pre-recess period also involved a spot of high drama and a number of momentous milestones in our ongoing process of leaving the European Union.

Most significantly, the EU (Withdrawal) Bill completed its passage through Parliament and received its Royal Assent on 26th June, though not without some important compromises in the ping pong process between the Houses. And most significantly for the environmental community, this amendments process ensured the Act now includes a statutory obligation for the Environment Secretary to bring a suite of environmental principles, a statutory statement about their interpretation and plans for the establishment of a public body dedicated to environmental governance in a Bill before Parliament this autumn. 

The now familiar sight on a sunny day in Westminster, London. 

This latter development had an immediate impact on a consultation exercise already opened by Defra in May (in line with a commitment made in its 25 Year Environment Plan published earlier this year). The amendment rendered redundant a number of the consultation questions about the environmental principles and their legal standing, though this did not prevent us from hammering home the importance of their inclusion in statue in our response. We were also not deterred in arguing for the new environmental governance body to cover the whole UK, despite the consultation referring exclusively to England. And, of course, we stressed the need for the leadership of this new body to be made up of individuals with professional experience and proven competence in the environmental and sustainability sector. Our work in this area, including our collective work with a number of Licensed Bodies under the banner of the Environmental Policy Forum, is available to read here.

Now that the relatively quiet period of Parliament’s summer recess has since begun, we’re beavering away with website updates, with the welcome assistance of our delightful and diligent intern, Rob Turner. Check out our revamped policy pages here – click and scroll through, and keep an eye out for further updates, as we’ll soon be presenting our report on Greening the Industrial Strategy, which showcases some of our Chartered Environmentalists’ live and leading work in this area.  

Time for a Goodbye

This summer also marks the end of my stretch at the Society, so this is the final policy update from me. My 18 months in this role has been a hugely significant learning experience for me, and a very exciting time in environmental politics and in Parliament in general. It’s been a tough decision to go, and it will particularly difficult to leave the wonderful team at SocEnv HQ – they are the definition of small but mighty! Huge, heartfelt thanks to the team, the wider army of Society volunteers and all the registrants I’ve had the pleasure of meeting and working with. I hope our paths cross again and, in the meantime, I wish the Society the very best with future plans.

Dr Tatum Matharu - Policy and Parliamentary Lead

Tags:  25 Year Environment Plan  Brexit  Defra  EU Withdrawal Bill  Parliament  Recess 

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