As ever, the last two months have been very eventful in the world of environmental policy. This is my best attempt at summarising some of the key developments! So here goes…
The Environmental Policy Forum (EPF) – made up of leading environmental organisations and for which the Society acts as Secretariat – continues to advocate the interests of the environmental profession. The forum responded to the first four Government consultations under the Resources and Waste Strategy, relating to the proposed introduction of: Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) for packaging; a Deposit Return Scheme; consistent recycling collections and a Plastic Packaging Tax. In our response, the forum applauded the ambition outlined in these consultations, reflecting the potential for the UK to take an international lead on tackling environmental challenges by wholly transforming its resources and waste sector. To ensure that this potential is realised, the EPF argued for a UK-wide policy framework to support the objectives outlined in the consultations, and for ‘whole system’ data and transparency – in order to guarantee that performance is judged against objectives and targets. You can view the full EPF response via our website.
The Society has long believed that the Environment Bill is a key opportunity to drive UK environmental standards forward. We were therefore pleased to join other leading business, environmental, academic and professional groups as a signatory to the ‘Assurances for an Environment Act’. Co-ordinated by the Broadway Initiative, the document outlines our shared view for how the Government's proposed Environment Bill can help 'put sustainability at the heart of our economic model'. The assurances outline the key asks we are calling for from the final Environment Bill, due to be published later this year. Among the headline asks include fostering a sense of ownership via the clear early delegation of responsibility, including clear long-term environmental targets and ensuring the Office for Environmental Protection (OEP) has sufficient teeth to hold the Government accountable for its actions. A more detailed summary of our asks can be found here.
While the Society remains concerned over the delays to the parliamentary progress of the Agriculture Bill, it was encouraging to attend the recent All Party Parliamentary Group on Agroecology session, launching the Soil Association report into ‘Setting the Bar for a Green Brexit in Food and Farming’. With speakers including Robert Goodwill MP, Minister of State for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, the session heard the report’s key finding: that Brexit offers the chance for the UK to be an international leader in sustainable farming. You can view the report’s full findings here.
Looking forward, the next couple of months promise to be as eventful as the last. While we await progress on significant environmental legislation, we will also be present at the upcoming Green Government conference. Taking place on the 2nd July during London Climate Action Week, the conference brings together policy leaders, innovative local authorities, clean technology suppliers and those who are successfully driving sustainability initiatives across the UK. As three organisations sharing a commitment to delivering sustainability by supporting environmental professionals to excel, we will be exhibiting alongside two of our Licensed Bodies, CIEEM and IEMA – so do make sure to come and see us on the day.
Sarah Ridgeon, Policy and Communications Officer