DEFRA update (UK)

On 1st November, DEFRA Secretary Michael Gove appeared before the UK Environmental Audit Committee hearing (having first appeared before the Lords EU Committee). The recording is here.

(1) Consultation for a new Environmental Regulator would likely take place ahead of the UK’s departure in March 2019.

“The need for a body or bodies has been clearly identified… as a need to safeguard the environment.”

“Outside the EU, the question is what replaces the Commission. How do we have the ECJ’s role replicated? I think that this is an absolutely important question, and my thinking is that we should consult on what type of body would be appropriate to replace the role that the Commission and Court have played.”

“It’s right that… we ensure there is a right balance between ensuring people continue to have recourse to the court through judicial review, but also recognise that you might need an agency, body or commission that has the power to potentially fine or otherwise hold government and public bodies to account.”

“We could have a system in that UK that is stronger and more effective than the EU’s because the Government could be held to account in a way that the EU itself currently cannot.”

(2) Re : DEFRA 25-yr Plan – Defra had initially planned frameworks for two separate 25-year environment and food & farming plans, but there would now be only one document published, which would be released either before Christmas or, at latest, in January 2018. The document would feature new policies in key areas such as recycling and biodiversity. 

The plan could see the UK Government step up its voluntary approach on food waste targets (NB Scotland and NI have specific food waste producer obligations, and Wales prohibits down the drawn disposal of food waste). 

“I am very keen that we should try to reduce food waste at every stage in the cycle”

“Having an ambitious target to reduce avoidable waste is an incredibly useful tool and discipline.”

The plan, which will be open for consultation, would be followed by a command paper on the future shape of agriculture, as a prelude to the agricultural bill expected in early Spring.

(3) Re : China’s ban on 24 grades of waste material imports, due to come into force in January [UK exports around 4.5 million tonnes of waste to China for recycling or recovery.]

“I don’t know what impact it will have.”

“It is a very good question and something to which I’ll be completely honest I have not given sufficient thought.”

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