A “strong” Environment Bill must “urgently” follow Queen’s Speech

The ability to deliver on the Government’s flagship 25 year environment plan is “severely threatened” by austerity, Brexit uncertainty, the threat of lower standards and weak legislation according to the Chartered Institution of Water and Environmental Management (CIWEM).

In a new report released today (10 Oct) titled “The 25 Year Environment Plan: Ambition to realisation”, CIWEM suggests there is “great scope” to deliver against the climate and ecological emergency with innovative and ambitious projects taking place in pockets of the country.

But it warns that “mainstreaming” this needs organisation, investment certainty and collaboration, at a time of great uncertainty and division.

“Crippled by austerity-driven budget cuts, public environment protection bodies and local councils cannot deliver the ambitions set out in the government’s flagship 25 year environment plan themselves,” the body says.

As we gear up for Brexit, an Environment Bill must provide for powerful independent scrutiny of progress

“Much hinges on a plethora of other, non-public bodies and organisations to pick up the slack. Yet these are hamstrung by perennial funding uncertainty meaning they struggle to deliver large scale or multi-year projects of the kind so desperately needed for our nature to recover.”

Lead author of the report Sarah Anderton said: “Like in so many other aspects of life at the moment, uncertainty, a potential reduction in standards and a lack of reporting and transparency are undermining the ability to move forward – in this case against the climate and ecological crises.

“The government’s 25 year environment plan set a high ambition and the potential for a long-term programme of environmental recovery but our report shows that its delivery requires greater support.”

Anderton continued: “As we look towards the Queen’s Speech and the publication of an Environment Bill we have found that what most delivery bodies need is certainty, investment and a truly systematic environmental recovery plan that enables them to collaborate effectively and deliver the best, most cost-effective projects.

“As we gear up for Brexit, an Environment Bill must provide for powerful independent scrutiny of progress and place clear duties on all public bodies to put environmental recovery at the heart of their planning. Without this the 25 year environment plan may fail to deliver the levels of protection and restoration our environment needs.”

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