The Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Efra) Committee is launching an inquiry into the Government’s Environment Bill.
The Environment Bill, introduced this week by government, covers environmental principles and governance alongside other key areas, including: waste and resource efficiency; air quality and environmental recall; water; nature and biodiversity; and conservation covenants.
Chair of the Committee Neil Parish MP said it presents an “extremely rare” opportunity to rethink how we protect the environment.
He said the government’s environmental framework has “fallen short in its own ambitions”.
Despite the Government attempting to establish a robust framework for environmental governance, it appears to have fallen short in its own ambitions
“It is vital the standards we currently adhere to do not slip,” he said. “It remains imperative to future generations that the Government does not squander its chance to get this right – it is unlikely they will get another any time soon.
“Despite the Government attempting to establish a robust framework for environmental governance, it appears to have fallen short in its own ambitions.
“Although we were pleased that the Government incorporated some of our recommendations for strengthening the new Office for Environmental Protection (OEP), the Committee is disappointed that it does not include safeguards that similar bodies have, which allow Parliament to ensure appointments to it are truly independent.
“The OEP must be able to fulfil its essential function of holding the government to account.
“After discussing this and a number of other concerns, the Committee will look at these questions again in detail and make sure this vital Bill receives the robust scrutiny it deserves.”
The Committee is seeking written submissions on the following questions, and particularly encourages proposals for specific amendments to the Environment Bill:
- Does the Environment Bill meet the Government’s commitment to non-regression from EU environmental standards?
- Does the Bill ensure that the Government and public bodies will act in accordance with environmental principles and law and be held to account if they don’t?
- Will the Office for Environmental Protection (OEP) have the powers, resources and independence from Government to effectively fulfil its role?
- Are there concerns about the powers and provisions (including on setting targets) relating to air quality, biodiversity, water resource management and waste management and whether they will be effective? Has the Government provided enough detail on the secondary legislation, or other non-legislative policy measures, that would be required?
- Does the Bill allow for common frameworks for governance and principles to ensure there is coherent implementation of environmental policy across the UK? What steps do the UK Government and Devolved Administrations need to take to make that a reality?
- Has sufficient consideration been given to the resource implications of the Bill for national and local government and other public bodies?
Written evidence should be submitted by 3 November 2019.