28 MAY 2019
Thank you for contacting me about the draft Environment Bill.
Draft clauses to be included in the Environment Bill on environmental principles and governance have now been published. These draft clauses will be central to the new Environment Bill and will place environmental ambition and accountability at the heart of government. I am encouraged that these clauses are only part of a broader Bill, which will include legislative measures to take direct action to address the biggest environmental priorities of our age: air quality, nature recovery, waste and resource efficiency, and water resource management. Of course, more detail on all policy areas is due to be published in due course.
I'm sure you will be pleased to see that the Bill introduces a new requirement for the Secretary of State to prepare an Environmental Improvement Plan (EIP); a "plan to improve the natural environment". These are to cover a period of no less than 15 years and are applicable to England only. Further, Clause 8 requires the Secretary of State to "prepare annual reports on the implementation of the current environmental improvement plan", which are to be laid before Parliament. I hope we can agree that this provides the juncture through which the Minister is fully held to account in a constructive and direct manner. This annual scrutiny will maintain the pressure on the Government to act in a careful and considered manner throughout the year.
The draft clauses also place our 25 Year Environment Plan on a statutory footing and introduce a set of environmental principles that will be used to guide future government policy making. As the Bill makes its journey through Parliament, I intend to give my support to amendments that make provision for the independent setting and monitoring of robust statutory targets for natures recovery.
The draft clauses set out how a new system of green governance will be created, establishing an independent Office for Environmental Protection, to ensure we succeed in leaving the environment in a better condition than we found it. I will also consider amendments that strengthen this principle.
I do hope that I have reassured you that I am fully committed to protecting our environment for future generations. I believe that his Draft Bill is a good start and I will be sure to follow its progress through Parliament closely and seek to amend where necessary.
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