Last month the Government launched its long awaited 25-year environment plan. The IES looks forward to working with the Government to deliver its aims and work out important details. Shortly after publication, our Policy Officer outlined his initial reaction to the plan, and the key challenges for successful implementation.
Now, there is an opportunity to have your say on the plan. The House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee (a Select Committee of MPs with a remit to scrutinise cross-government performance on the environment) has launched a short inquiry into the plan. The inquiry is open to public evidence submissions, which will inform subsequent oral evidence sessions and the committee’s report on the topic.
The IES intends to make a submission to this inquiry and are interested to hear the thoughts of members on the plan’s approach.
The key questions the committee will focus on in its inquiry are outlined in the terms of reference, below.
Ambition and Reporting
- To what extent does the Plan set a sufficiently ambitious agenda across Government? How far do the objectives, targets and indicators set out in the plan reflect a higher level of ambition than existing targets (including European Union targets and the Sustainable Development Goals) and current performance? Are there any major gaps?
- What would success or failure look like for the Plan? To what extent will the Government’s proposals for reporting on the Plan allow for proper scrutiny of its performance against its objectives? Are the commitments to legislative action in the Plan sufficient to ensure it will endure beyond the current Parliament?
- The Plan sets out a natural capital-led approach and a principle of “environmental net gain” when undertaking development. What are the risks and benefits of adopting these approaches? What steps need to be taken during development and implementation to ensure they lead to positive environmental outcomes, especially in respect of biodiversity?
- To what extent does the Plan set out effective delivery mechanisms to ensure DEFRA, other Government departments and public bodies have the resources and responsibilities to implement it? Where should the Government seek agreement with the Devolved Institutions to ensure a common approach across the UK?
Principles and Oversight
- The Government has proposed an independent statutory body to “champion and uphold environmental standards as we leave the European Union”. What role, legal basis and powers will it need to ensure the Government fulfils its environmental obligations and responsibilities? How do these compare to the role of the European Institutions in the existing arrangements? What standard would it have to meet to be “world leading”?
- The Plan sets out a series of objectives and the Government says it will consult on a policy statement on environmental principles to underpin policy-making after leaving the European Union. What principles should the Government include as part of that consultation? What legislation might be needed?
If you have thoughts, evidence, or analysis, which may assist in the preparation of the IES submission, please send them to Robert Ashcroft, by Thursday 22nd February.