IEMA publishes seven-point plan for new Environment Act
The UK government’s overall direction of travel is on track to protect environmental principles post-Brexit, but it must show far more ambition if it is to deliver on its 25-year plan.
That is the message from sustainability body IEMA, which has today published a seven-point plan to deliver the prime minister's aim of improving the environment within a generation.
The government received praise for including environmental principles in the EU Withdrawal Act, and giving powers to an independent watchdog, but reservations remain over the proposed Environmental Principles and Governance Bill.
There are concerns that the bill provides a narrative that there is a need to ‘trade-off’ between the environment and the economy – something IEMA has described as “outdated, unfounded and unhelpful”.
The institute’s chief policy advisor, Martin Baxter, said: “The broad direction of the bill is on track. However, IEMA members want to see far more ambition than is currently outlined in the consultation.”
The UK government published its 25-year Environment Plan in January this year, outlining how it intends to deliver a better environment than it inherited over a generation.
Prime minister Theresa May also announced last month that her government would bring the first Environment Act in over 20 years, building on the work of the 25-year plan.
IEMA said the forthcoming Act must provide, as a minimum, a framework for:
1) Legally binding goals supported by numerical targets, milestones and metrics for key environmental outcomes such as biodiversity, freshwater quality and availability, air quality and soils.
2) Five-yearly updates to the 25 Year Plan aimed at achieving the goals and targets, based on independent advice.
3) A fully funded and resourced five-year programme of activity that will deliver actions to meet targets and milestones.
4) Improved monitoring and reporting on the state of the environment using mapping and modelling that is more accessible and understandable to the public.
5) An overarching “duty of environmental responsibility” on public and private activity affecting the environment that changes the default so that e.g. government departments, public bodies, businesses and potentially others have a basic duty to act responsibly towards the environment, or to take account of the environment in making decisions.
6) Cross-Whitehall regulation, incentives and taxation designed to protect the environment and stimulate genuinely sustainable development and economic growth.
7) Effective, place-based governance and resourcing to allow communities and local and regional bodies to work together to protect and enhance the environment at a meaningful scale.
Click here to read IEMA’s full Environmental Principles and Governance Bill response.
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Chris Seekings is a reporter for TRANSFORM