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Policy and Parliamentary Update
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Updates on policy work taking place at the Society for our email newsletter. Updates from February 2019 onwards are from SocEnv's Policy and Communications Officer, Sarah Ridgeon.


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February 2020 Policy Update

Posted By Administration, 27 February 2020



Following the purdah period and the General Election, it has been pleasing to see developments across environmental policy in recent weeks which has seen the Environment and Agriculture Bills reintroduced to Parliament. This poses significant influencing opportunities for SocEnv and the Environmental Policy Forum (EPF), with these Bills facing legislative scrutiny as they move through Parliament, and the marks just the beginning of what is sure to be a busy year full of policy and legislative developments.

We have begun to build relationships with the new Secretary of State for Defra, George Eustice MP, as well as other new Ministers including the new COP26 President The Rt Hon Alok Sharma MP in the run-up to November. The EPF recently sent letters to new and returning Ministers outlining our key asks from them and Government, including some of our recommendations for environmental targets as enabled by the Environment Bill. Our letter to the Environment Secretary George Eustice can be viewed via the ‘our work’ section of the EPF website:

In late March, the EPF will be holding a workshop in Belfast aimed at ensuring broad engagement and input from the Northern Ireland environmental community. The workshop will focus on the Environment Bill and provide an opportunity to discuss the environmental aspects of future trade arrangements and relationships. To find out more, please contact

Looking further ahead, SocEnv and the EPF are keen to harness the huge opportunities posed by the 2020 UN Biodiversity Conference (COP15) and 2020 UN Climate Change Conference (COP26), to be held in October and November respectively. With COP26 hosted in Glasgow, the latter in particular is a fantastic opportunity for the UK to showcase its aspirations to be an environmental leader on the international stage – and we would encourage everyone to be part of what is a landmark moment in a key year for the environment.


Sarah Ridgeon, Policy and Communications Officer

Tags:  Environment Bill  Environmental Policy Forum  policy 

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October Policy Update – Reacting to the Environment Bill

Posted By Sarah Ridgeon, 24 October 2019
Updated: 25 October 2019

Welcome to the October policy update.


Shaping the new UK Environment Bill has been a major focus for our policy work over the past year – both in terms of Society activity and in our capacity as Secretariat and member of the Environmental Policy Forum (EPF), a network of Professional Bodies working to influence environmental policy and its formulation. We were therefore pleased to see the Bill presented to Parliament by the UK Government earlier this month. We are still in the process of analysing the Bill in full, but welcome key elements of the Bill which reflect some of our biggest asks in ensuring the future of UK environmental standards post-Brexit.

As a signatory to the Broadway Initiative's 'Assurances for an Environment Act' and to EPF submissions to Government, the Society had called for the Bill to include robust targets to give weight and credibility to the Bill’s environmental principles and for the adequate enforcement of climate change law – reflecting what it is a vital element of environmental law and standards.

Earlier this month SocEnv supported an EPF letter to the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care Matt Hancock, calling on him to back the inclusion of a number of measures, including the introduction of robust air quality targets. This is reflected in the Bill’s inclusion of a legally binding target on reducing fine particulate matter (PM2.5) in the atmosphere, as well as legally binding targets in other areas such as water; biodiversity and resources and waste. It was also great to see the Office for Environmental Protection (OEP), the new environmental watchdog, given the responsibility for enforcing climate change law.

The powers outlined in the Bill also lay the framework for the delivery of policies such as a proposed Deposit Return Scheme (DRS) and mandatory Biodiversity Net Gain and we await further details on how these will be implemented.

For more insight into recent activity and developments, make sure to catch up with our latest podcast, where we interview Martin Baxter, Chief Policy Adviser at the Institute of Environmental Management and Assessment (IEMA), a key figure in the EPF and the Broadway Initiative’s efforts to shape the Environment Bill.

During the Bill’s passage through Parliament, we will continue to work to gain greater clarity on elements where we still have some concern, including the process by which environmental targets are set and the independence of the OEP, which needs to be guaranteed in order to fully hold Government to account.

All EPF submissions are available via our website at, where you can also view our latest news, find out more about what we do and sign up for our latest updates!


Sarah Ridgeon, Policy and Communications Officer



Tags:  EPF  Policy 

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August Policy Update

Posted By Sarah Ridgeon, 20 August 2019

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

Tags:  APPG  Boris  Broadway  Environmental Policy Forum  EPF  Gove  Policy  Prime Minister 

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Summer Policy Update

Posted By Sarah Ridgeon, 26 June 2019

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

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April Policy Update

Posted By Sarah Ridgeon, 25 April 2019
Updated: 25 April 2019

April Policy Update

Welcome to the April policy update! Firstly, I hope everyone had a lovely Easter weekend, and enjoyed the all too brief break from the dreaded ‘B’ word! As Parliament returns from recess, now is a good time to reflect on developments from the past couple of months…

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. Just last week Forum members were in London meeting with Officials at the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS). We identified mutual priorities – such as Clean Growth – and discussed the Society’s Greening the Industrial Strategy report, containing case studies with Chartered Environmentalists, and how they demonstrate the achievability of an environmentally sustainable Industrial Strategy.

Building links with Government Departments is key to ensuring the voices of environmental professionals are heard, and we are therefore also delighted that Dr Thérèse Coffey MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), will speak at the Society’s Annual World Environment Day Awards and Lectures on the 4th June, on the topic of ‘Net Gain’. Dr Coffey, whose remit at Defra includes air quality, the Government’s 25 Year Environment Plan, and the natural environment – including biodiversity – will be on hand to listen to the views of environmental professionals as well as providing a fascinating insider’s perspective into recent policy developments.

Elsewhere, following the EPF response to the Defra consultation earlier this year, we were very pleased to see the Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond announce mandatory Biodiversity Net Gain as a requirement for developments. We also continue to work with the cross-organisational Broadway Initiative to influence Government and shape the contents of the final Environment Bill.

Looking forward, the Forum will be inputting into the first four Resources and Waste Strategy consultations, on introducing Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) for packaging; a Deposit Return Scheme; consistent recycling collections and a Plastic Packaging Tax. We will also be keeping an eye on the progress of the Agriculture and Fisheries Bills, both of which have reached report stage in the House of Commons but have seen their progress delayed. Make sure to watch this space over what promises to be another very busy two months in environmental policy!


Sarah Ridgeon, Policy and Communications Officer



Tags:  #policy 

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Policy Update

Posted By Sarah Ridgeon, 21 February 2019

February Policy Update

 It has been a busy two months for environmental policy! In these turbulent political times, now more than ever it is vital for the voices of environmental professionals to be heard by key decision makers.

The Environmental Policy Forum (EPF) - made up of leading environmental organisations and for which the Society acts as Secretariat - has been working hard over the last few months to ensure its 2019 aims are met. 

One of the Forum’s leading aims has been to help shape the contents of the final Environment Bill, due to be published this summer. As part of the delivery of this aim, the EPF responded to the EFRA and EAC Inquiry into the Scrutiny of the Draft Environment (Principles and Governance) Bill. While welcoming the government’s ambition and stated commitment to improving environmental standards, the Forum’s submission also cited concerns regarding the independence and enforcement powers of the proposed Environmental Watchdog, the Office for Environmental Protection (OEP). For the EPF, the current proposals raise serious questions over the OEP’s ability to hold government to account. To address these concerns, the EPF called for the OEP to be moved away from Government and closer to Parliamentary scrutiny. To aid enforcement of the principles, the Forum would also like to see the OEP be able to take cases of non-compliance to the First Tier Tribunal. As it stands, the Bill provides the OEP only with the ability to take cases to Judicial Review, which as a legal option has significant limitations. You can view the EPF’s submission here. The Society also made its own response to the Inquiry, which can be viewed here

Another of the Forum’s key aims is to highlight the views of the environmental profession by responding to key Government consultations. This month the EPF made a submission to the Government’s consultation on introducing mandatory Biodiversity Net Gain. Under the proposals, a development project would need to ensure it delivers an overall net gain in biodiversity before planning permission is granted. Overall, the Forum welcomed the proposals, agreeing with the Government that they will help to standardise practices across local authorities. Nevertheless, the EPF called for greater detail to be provided on several elements of the proposals, including how the tariff system will work in ensuring sufficient compensation for failure to deliver Net Gain. The response also stressed the importance of involvement of key stakeholders in all stages of the process, providing insight and expertise in consultation and helping ensure effective delivery of the proposals. The full EPF submission can be viewed here

Looking forward over the next couple of months, the EPF will continue to strive to influence the contents of the final Environment Bill, including via our links with the Broadway Initiative. In addition, the Forum will be considering the first series of consultations attached to the Resources and Waste Strategy- just announced- as well as assessing the latest developments in Agriculture and Fisheries Bills as they reach report stage in the House of Commons. 


Sarah Ridgeon, Policy and Communications Officer


More information on the Environment Bill can be found via the GOV.UK website

You can also find out more about the EPF, including its member organisations, here 

Tags:  Policy 

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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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The 25 Year Plan Beyond Brexit

Posted By Phil Underwood, 17 April 2018

A policy update by Dr Tatum Matharu, Policy and Parliamentary Lead

The first quarter of 2018 has seen the landmark publication of the Government’s long-awaited 25 Year Environment Plan and a flurry of related activity.

The production of the Plan (or 25 YEP), which was formally recommended by the Natural Capital Committee in its March 2014 report, had stalled under a number of changes of Secretary of State at DEFRA, but the Government’s self-styled eco-warrior now at the helm has managed to drag this document out into the limelight and have it publicly launched by the Prime Minister in January. Whilst some may have seen his raft of measures since in post as somewhat ‘tokenistic’, it’s undeniable that Michael Gove has enabled his team at DEFRA to produce a significantly more detailed and wide-ranging 25 YEP than the leaked draft that had been in circulation. 

As ever, the devil is in the detail. And we’re being invited to contribute to that detail through a number of consultations processes. Already open, for example, is a consultation around single-use plastics, which the Government, through the 25 YEP, is attempting to tackle as part of its broader commitment to eliminate all ‘avoidable’ plastic waste by 2042 (and, indeed, all avoidable waste by 2050). Significantly, this consultation focuses specifically on the use of the tax system to steer towards this target and the consultation is being hosted by HM Treasury, indicating a welcome step towards joined-up thinking. You can read our former Chair’s initial thoughts on the 25 YEP and plastics here; and note that the issue of plastic waste also takes centre-stage globally as the theme for this year’s World Environment Day, which we’re celebrating here alongside our Annual Awards and Lectures event on the 5th June (register here). 

Whilst the mainstream media may have concentrated on this particular issue – and rightly, to reflect and enhance public attention on plastic waste – the 25 YEP is a lengthy document that seemingly collects together a multitude of streams and strategies, some planned and some promised, into a single reference point. And, notably, they’re at different stages of fruition, with varying levels of explicit connection to the ongoing Brexit negotiations. In the area of chemicals, for example, the 25 YEP recognises the role of chemicals in air quality, fertilisers for farming and pollution more generally, and states an intention to publish a specific strategy on chemicals, but there is only brief mention of the huge undertaking that will be required in extracting the UK from the EU’s collective chemical regulation system (REACH) and potentially recreating that or otherwise negotiating some form of continued membership to the overseeing body, the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA), post-Brexit, which the Prime Minister has publicly committed to exploring

We have, alongside colleagues from a number of professional bodies, briefed members of the House of Lords on this area of policy as they discussed amendments to the Brexit Bill on REACH and ECHA. We’ve seen encouraging levels of engagement from the Lords on this and our previous briefing to them on our concerns for the environment raised by the current version of the EU (Withdrawal) Bill more generally. Find out more about these briefings here. We will continue both to work with our colleagues in the Society’s constituent professional bodies and to keep up the pressure in this area together, but please do get in touch with me directly if you’d like to contribute your thoughts into this work, particularly if you work in the chemicals industry and can share your perspective on ‘live’ applications and implications of leaving REACH. 

Otherwise, all eyes are on DEFRA for any word on environmental governance post-Brexit. The Environment Secretary has outwardly accepted the argument made by ourselves as well as many others that governance around environmental matters – that is the public structures and processes of accountability around environmental regulation and legislation – post-Brexit needs much more meaningful and urgent attention. Whilst our calls for an independent body with statutory powers has not (yet) been agreed to, the 25 YEP does commit the Government to opening a consultation on environmental governance. We are, therefore, currently working up the detail of our proposals in preparation for responding to this consultation. Again, your thoughts are welcome so please do get in touch with me directly. 

A final and relatively minor detail of the 25 YEP, but hugely significant for us, is the connection between the 25 YEP and the Industrial Strategy, published by BEIS in November last year. There is a declared link between them and they are triangulated by the Clean Growth Strategy (also published by BEIS in October last year). The links are admirable and certainly nod towards joined-up thinking, but, as yet, any substantive integration of approach is lacking beyond energy and carbon considerations. We’re working to improve understanding in this area. We’re currently compiling a collection of case studies that demonstrates the work of environmental professionals as they simultaneously meet the strategic aims of the environmental and industrial sectors. This showcase report will be the first in a planned series, so there’s still an opportunity to be included in one of the themed follow-ups – get in touch to register your interest. In the meantime, look out for the publication of our first report at our Awards and Lectures on World Environment Day

Dr Tatum Matharu, Policy and Parliamentary Lead


Tags:  25 Year Environment Plan  25YEP  Brexit  DEFRA  Gove  Government  Policy  REACH 

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BEIS, Brexit and the Budget

Posted By Phil Underwood, 13 December 2017
Updated: 13 December 2017

A policy update by Dr Tatum Matharu, Policy and Parliamentary Lead

As expected, autumn has been busy in the Houses and in Whitehall, specifically BEIS, which we turn to first for two major publications: the long-awaited Clean Growth Strategy and the Industrial Strategy White Paper. 

My first update for the Society focused on our response to the Industrial Strategy Green Paper, which was published in January of this year and closed for comments in April. Coming full circle in a year, we’re still left hoping for the circular economy the Industrial Strategy could deliver. It certainly nods to resource efficiency, and even includes this diagram from the excellent Ellen MacArthur Foundation: 

(Industrial Strategy: Building a Britain Fit for the Future: pg. 150)

However, this is overshadowed by the document’s preoccupation with energy efficiency. And the emphasis of energy efficiency in this strategy, alongside its sister strategy of clean growth, is to be welcomed; the purpose of the Industrial Strategy is to increase productivity (and hence improve our economic performance), which would generally result in higher carbon output, which we can’t afford – both in terms of price (a central concern for BEIS) and in terms of the environment (a central concern for us all) – so moves to mitigate our reliance on energy and to decarbonise the economy are certainly appropriate and commendable. As is the apparent integration of energy and clean growth considerations across the White Paper’s ‘five foundations of productivity’ (which, seemingly, have been whittled down from the Green Paper’s 10 pillars). 

We’d still like to see deeper engagement with the concepts of sustainability and resilience across this Industrial Strategy as well as further integrated or ‘joined-up’ thinking and regulation that, whilst being ‘agile’ and ‘simple’, is also fit for (its protective) purpose. But it’s time now to turn attention to (our) practice. I recently held a workshop, facilitated by GK Strategy and their Strategic Adviser, the Rt. Hon. David Laws, during which policy-focused colleagues from our Licensed Bodies and policy-enthused volunteers from our Council came together to decide our policy priorities for 2018 and beyond. The Industrial Strategy, specifically its implementation and how it can be ‘greened’ in practice, came out on top. This could well be the post-Brexit policy intervention of our time; it may not hold the environment front and centre as the 25 year plan will (hopefully), but the reality of economic drivers will prioritise this piece and we can, together, ensure that environmental professionals and their good practice can deliver environmental sustainability and resilience through the range of industrial sectors that make up the UK economy. I’m knee-deep in behind-the-scenes work (and snow!) but watch this space for developments (or get in touch to get involved!). 

But now to present-tense Brexit… Progress here has been sluggish, not only in terms of the high-level negotiations in the headlines but also the EU (Withdrawal) Bill’s delayed return to the Commons, given the hundreds of amendments tabled. This latter delay was, to some extent, welcomed and reassuring as it demonstrates that the Bill could not be simply steamrolled through the democratic process – concerns, including those of environmentalists, were heard and represented. But this does have a knock-on effect and the Society, alongside members of the Environmental Policy Forum, is concerned that time is running out to develop the hundreds of statutory instruments required to have a functioning statue book on exit day. We’ve aired our concerns (read more here), whilst also welcoming the Secretary of State for Defra’s consideration of an Environmental Commission, which should alleviate some of the concerns we’ve previously raised around environmental governance. 

CIWM’s CEO, Dr Colin Church, has helpfully detailed the background of the potential post-Brexit gaps in environmental accountability and governance in the CIWM Journal. And CIEEM have worked up the detail of what is needed to protect and enhance the environment post-Brexit, which includes an independent scrutiny body – OfEnv – and a new Environment Act; read more from Jason Reeves, CIEEM’s Policy Manager, here. The Society continues to work with colleagues at CIWM and CIEEM as well as other Licensed Bodies and beyond under the banner of the Environmental Policy Forum, harnessing and enhancing the weight of our collective influence through its role as secretariat, with our Chair at the helm. This is the main forum for our continued Brexit efforts, so keep up to date using the EPF section of our website.  

Finally, no autumn is complete, now, without our only-annual Budget. We have a brief overview from IEMA (click the links to find out more), and an equally brief but wider perspective from IMechE. Plus, we’ve some deeper analysis from CIOB, and from IES, which takes us back to the Industrial Strategy – our focus for a green 2018. 

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Partnerships, Peers and Perspective

Posted By Phil Underwood, 18 October 2017
Updated: 13 December 2017

A policy update by Dr Tatum Matharu, Policy and Parliamentary Lead.

Parliament returned from its summer recess with its ayes on Brexit. The EU Withdrawal Bill, commonly known as the ‘Repeal Bill’ (and formerly known as the ‘Great Repeal Bill’), had its second reading in the Commons on the 7th September and on the 11th, despite grumbles from within the party of Government and a three-line whip by the Opposition, it passed by 36 votes onto the committee stage, during which MPs will have just eight days of scrutiny. 

It is noteworthy that the European Communities Act 1972, which took us into what became the EU, and the European Communities (Amendment) Act 1993, which formalised the Treaty of the EU (a.k.a. the ‘the Maastricht Treaty’) into UK law, had 22 and 23 days at committee stage respectively. It seems, therefore, that there’s a relatively tight timeframe to influence MPs in their debates and potential amendments to the Bill, but we struck while the iron was hot. Collaborating with a number of our Licensed Bodies over the summer, we organised our concerns into a briefing hitting the desks of key ministers (Michael Gove at DEFRA and David Davis and Robin Walker at DExEU) as well as every single MP ahead of the vote. Read more, including the briefing and its media coverage, here.  

It’s widely understood that hundreds of amendments are being suggested and circulated amongst MPs for support, so much so that the Bill’s return to Parliament for its committee stage (previously thought to be this week) has now been delayed. Like much else about Brexit, there is a huge degree of uncertainty and a whole lot of watching and waiting for signals that may help strategically to steer a course for sharing environmentalists’ concerns about what happen after Brexit. 

However, who or what to influence is arguably more readily understandable as we can more safely assume that, given our situation of minority government, there are significant opportunities to bring our collective expertise to bear on the full range of parliamentary avenues. Backbench MPs, opposition parties and various committees and groups in both Houses are now extraordinarily significant, as is working in partnership. Indeed, we have recently sent our briefing to a House of Lords select committee that had called for evidence regarding the constitutional implications of the Bill, and we plan to target Peers with our briefing once we have a clearer idea of when the Bill will enter the upper chamber’s debate and scrutiny processes.  

At the same time, it is necessary to keep things in perspective. It is easy to think the Repeal Bill is the only game in town but, whilst it sets up the processes and procedures for our post-Brexit work, the implications of Brexit will be felt in a range of different policy areas as well as the connections between them. It is important for the Society to channel the collective expertise of our registrants to such debates, as we did, for example, by joining a recent discussion hosted by the All Party Parliamentary Group on Agroecology on their report regarding the impact of new trade agreements on sustainable food and farming. We will continue to work in such fora and, as ever, we invite your contributions so please do get in touch with me directly if you would like to become more involved. 

Tags:  Environment  EU Withdrawal Bill  Great Repeal Bill  Policy  Repeal Bill  Withdrawal Bill 

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