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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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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 https://www.envpolicyforum.org.uk/, 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
sarah.ridgeon@socenv.org.uk

 

 

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
sarah.ridgeon@socenv.org.uk

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

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