August Policy Update
Welcome to the August policy update. As Parliament is now in recess and summer holidays are underway, what better time to catch up on everything that has happened during the last two months!
It has been an eventful time at Westminster. Following Boris Johnson’s appointment as Prime Minister, the personnel at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) has altered, most notably by the departure of Michael Gove as Environment Secretary. We would like to thank Mr Gove for all his hard work during the two years he was in the post and look forward to working with his successor Theresa Villiers to tackle the challenges that lie in front of us.
One of the key areas of work we would like to highlight from Mr Gove’s tenure is his role in developing the forthcoming Environment Bill. It was therefore good to see him deliver a key update in his final speech in the post, where he committed to ensuring the Bill contains “compelling and comprehensive objectives”. This was a very welcome announcement, as it is only through the presence of long-term targets, milestones and objectives that the principles outlined in the draft Bill are assured weight and credibility. Mr Gove also provided an update on the proposed remit and enforcement powers of the Office for Environmental Protection (OEP), with some suggestion that the Body may be given the power to enforce climate change law. Regardless of whether this is included in the OEP’s remit, it is crucial that there exists a Body with the capacity to ensure adherence to climate change law. The need for comprehensive targets, milestones and objectives and adequate enforcement of climate change law both featured prominently within our submissions to Government and as signatory to the Broadway Initiative's Assurances for an Environment Act. We will continue to stress the importance of our key asks with influencers and keenly anticipate the publication of the final Bill, expected later this year. Other notable updates in Mr Gove’s speech included confirmation that a Deposit Return Scheme (DRS) is in development, following the consultation earlier this year.
We were also pleased to see the launch of the new All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Nature last month. The APPG “provides a forum for engaging and inspiring parliamentarians and others with the natural world, the major threats that it faces today, and the positives that come from a healthy natural environment.” Barry Gardiner MP was elected as the group’s Chair with Licensed Body of the Society for the Environment, The Chartered Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management (CIEEM), providing secretariat services to the group. You can find out more about the APPG for Nature via the CIEEM website and using the hashtag #APPGnature on social media.
Lastly, we are delighted to say that we will be launching a new dedicated website for the Environmental Policy Forum (EPF) next month. The forum, made up of leading environmental organisations and for which the Society acts as Secretariat, seeks to influence environmental policy and its formulation. The website will provide the perfect showcase for the EPF’s work, in particular our policy papers and responses to Government consultations. Make sure to watch this space!
Sarah Ridgeon, Policy and Communications Officer