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Examination of Witnesses

Part of Environment Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 4:30 pm on 10th March 2020.

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Ruth Chambers:

As we discussed with Deidre, the carve-outs are not helpful, because they absolve much of Government from applying the principles in the way that they should be applied. The most simple solution would be to remove or diminish those carve-outs. We do not think that a very strong or justified case has been made for the carve-outs, certainly for the Ministry of Defence or the armed forces; in many ways, it is the gold standard Department, in terms of encountering environmental principles in its work. There seems to be no strong case for excluding it, so remove the exclusions.

There are also proportionality and other limitations on how the policy statement should be taken forward. Again, we do not see a strong case for those being embedded in the law. As I mentioned, we should strengthen the duty, so that it is not just a duty to have due regard to a policy statement, which is a next-step-removed duty, but a duty in relation to the principles themselves. To repeat the point, it would be brilliant if we could see the policy statement soon, so that we can help the Department and the Government shape it into a really helpful vehicle for everybody.