National Food Strategy – call for evidence (UK England)

Exit day is 31st October.

Today HMG announced a call for evidence to help build a new National Food Strategy for England. Closing date is 25th October 2019.

On 27 June, Defra’s Secretary of State commissioned Henry Dimbleby to conduct an independent review to help HMG create a new National Food Strategy for England (the last one dates 75 years ago).

The purpose of the review is to address the environmental and health problems caused by the food system, to ensure the security of food supply, and to maximise the benefits of emerging agricultural technology.

The terms of reference for the Review is here.

A separate National Food Strategy onsite site has been created and this is the page on that site about the engagement – here.

The online address of the National Food Strategy site is here.

The Review will be published Summer 2020.

The Call for Evidence Closing Date is 25th October 2019 and see the Programme of Engagement on the National Food Strategy site here.

HMG stated it will publish a summary of responses 12 weeks after the consultation closes.

The Call for Evidence is accessed here (and from the National Food Strategy site).

This is a wide ranging exercise, covering obesity, food security, land management, fishing, animal welfare.

The National Food Strategy will examine activity across several departments of state, and build on the Brexit Agriculture and Fisheries Bills, the Industrial Strategy, the Childhood Obesity Plan and the proposed Environment Bill.

Statement about the UK Political Situation (this Blog does not post about Politics, this Statement is now added to Posts where the political situation could alter the content, timing or otherwise affect, the Post itself).

(1) HMG has a majority of one.

(2) Steps are being discussed by Opposition Parties and some backbenchers to prevent a No Deal, in September.

Environment Bill (UK)

I posted months ago about HMG proposal for a new Environment Bill. There has not been an Environment Bill since 1995.

Progress to date has been weak, and the aspects that were published so far related only to the Governance and Principles aspects.

Today, 23rd July, the DEFRA Secretary has published an updated Policy Statement (of intentions) – here.

Note : Environment is a policy area that is devolved to the regional nations, so the legislative proposals below would apply in England only. Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland would decide themselves whether and what to follow.

Note : this Statement identifies the Environment Bill will be introduced in the second Parliamentary Session (we are still in the First).

Air quality

(1) Legislation on key measures in the Clean Air Strategy – sharing responsibility for tackling air pollution (across local government structures and with relevant public bodies), plus enabling local government to tackle emissions from domestic burning.

(2) Powers for government to mandate recalls of vehicles and machinery, when they do not meet relevant legal emission standards.

Nature

(3) Nature policy to have a local community focus – a mandatory approach to biodiversity net gain requiring developers to ensure habitats for wildlife are enhanced, with a 10% increase in habitat value for wildlife compared with the pre-development baseline (national infrastructure projects excepted – we will continue to work to establish potential approaches to achieving biodiversity net gains for nationally significant infrastructure projects and marine development, which remain out of scope of biodiversity net gain in the Bill).

(4) Re net gain, planning and the future Environmental Land Management system (replacing agricultural land subsidies) – a new statutory requirement for Local Nature Recovery Strategies. The aim is for these strategies to help to map out important habitats and opportunities for the local environment to be improved, linking communities’ knowledge and priorities with national environmental objectives.

(5) A new duty on local authorities to consult with local communities to ensure that consultation takes place when a street tree is to be felled.

(6) Legislation on conservation covenants – voluntary agreements between a landowner and others (for example, a conservation charity) to help deliver positive local conservation.

Waste

(7) A series of measures that will fundamentally change the way government, businesses and individuals produce and consume products (this will be a big change).

(8) New legal powers to allow government to set resource-efficiency standards for products, driving a shift in the market towards products that are lasting, can be repaired and can be recycled. Plus clear labelling to enable citizens to make fully informed purchasing decisions.

(9) New powers to introduce Extended Producer Responsibility schemes – for packaging, producers will pay the full net cost of dealing with their packaging waste to incentivise recyclability in its design (this is in line with other countries). At the moment, producers currently only pay about 10% of these costs. This will be a fundamental change to the Packaging and Packaging Waste Producer Responsibility Law.

(10) Legislation to modernise the government’s powers to set producer responsibility obligations, extending them to prevention and redistribution of waste, in particular tackling food waste where there is no Legislation in England.

(11) A simplified approach to recycling across local authorities, making it simpler for the public to recycle. A consistent set of materials will need to be collected from all households and businesses in England, with clearer labelling on packaging.

(12) New powers to enable deposit return schemes, particularly dealing with plastic waste. Plus a new power to be able to introduce charges for specified single use plastic items. (Note, there is new EU Law in this area, I posted about recently).

(13) The Litter Strategy commits to review the mechanism by which councils and other land-managers can be held to account for maintaining their land to the standards set out in the Code of Practice. This includes the current section 91 Environment Protection Act process and other options, taking into account the impacts on local authority prioritisation and costs, the court system and the exchequer.

(14) A series of measures unspecified) to improve the management of waste, enabling better use of resources and to reduce the risk of economic, environmental and social harm.

Water

(15) Legislation to strengthen Ofwat’s powers to update water companies’ licences – in particular bringing the way in which water companies appeal Ofwat decisions in line with that for other utility regulators.

(16) New powers to direct water companies to work together on how they will meet current and future demand for water; making planning more robust, even in drought conditions and/or in areas of water stress, for example by working jointly to transfer between catchments when needed.

(17) A new power to enable future updates to a list of harmful chemicals which must be tackled to protect the aquatic environment.

DEFRA Update (UK Brexit)

Exit day is 12th April

This morning the DEFRA Secretary was before the House of Lords EU Energy and Environment Sub-Committee, updating on UK Brexit preparations and arrangements.

(1) A second REACH SI will be issued, this will be additional to the existing SI that was re-issued recently – in draft still. These two Statutory Instruments (SIs) will seek to address the deficiencies raised by the Chemical Industries Association and others.

(2) All 120 DEFRA SIs are now laid, 8 are not yet enacted, including the second REACH SI. These are expected to be enacted by 12th April.

[Please continue to follow the Brexit Law List in subscribers’ Cardinal Environment EHS Legislation Registers and Checklists. Note : some of these SIs are lengthy, and each may correct deficiencies in lots of different existing UK laws. We will begin work on these Brexit SIs to consolidate the text into existing laws supplied before 12th April.]

[The Brexit Law List includes SIs issued by other Government departments, additional to DEFRA, pertaining to ENV and OHS. I posted recently that all Brexit SIs had now been laid, across all government departments.]

(3) A ‘Shadow Body’ will carry out work (as respects environmental governance – outside the EU, a governance gap is identified) in the interim after 12th April, until the Office for Environmental Protection has been set up under the Environmental Principles and Governance Bill (which is not enacted, and is stacked above the Brexit Bills in terms of their landing as enacted Acts, and indeed may not be enacted in this Parliament).

I posted before about the Environment Bill – the Principles and Governance Bill is one part of the Environment Bill that was promised by the UK Prime Minister and confirmed by the DEFRA Secretary – the full Environment Bill is not published, and the DEFRA Secretary said nothing this morning about progress, nor was he asked any question about it.

Office and staffing resources have been identified for the Shadow Body, and a “distinguished lawyer” has been approached to chair it. DEFRA will release details as soon as it is possible.

The job of the Shadow Body will be to refer infringements to the Office for Environmental Protection. “The full rigour of the law will be used in the interim against offenders”.

(4) Sector instructions are issued re waste storage, and the Environment Agency (EA) – I posted yesterday about the EA temporary regulatory policy statements.

(5) Dynamic regulatory alignment will be maintained with EU (animal and animal product) standards for the rest of this year, in order to achieve listing as a Third Country for live animal and animal product exports to continue to the EU, and across the international border on the island of Ireland.

This listing is not yet confirmed, but confirmation is expected by 12th April.

DEFRA will intervene to support in vulnerable sectors, the example given is headage payments per ewe to sheep farmers re sheep meat.

(6) Dynamic regulatory alignment (animal and plant standards) will be maintained for the rest of this year, to continue access to EU TRACES (IT system). The EU TRACES system is – here.

Again, continuity of access is not yet confirmed. Ireland has made an offer, which the UK has accepted.

(7) As an independent coastal state, UK would have the right to stop vessels fishing in UK waters. But, the policy is for a continuity approach respecting the quotas and access agreements reached in the EU December Council, for the rest of 2019.

(8) The IPAFFS (UK IT system for animal and animal product imports) is up and running. The UK IPAFFS system is – here.

[TRACES must be used until 12th April.]

(9) The AVLS (existing UK IT system for animal, animal product, plants and plant product imports) interfaces with the new Brexit HMRC systems, and the PEACH system (I posted about PEACH recently) as set out here.

[the Exit day may change, please continue to follow this Blog]

Environment Watchdog Bill (UK Brexit)

DEFRA has just published its draft Environment (Principles and Governance) Bill. This document is here.

The consultation response is here.

This Brexit bill is necessary because without oversight of the EU institutions and mechanisms, environmental governance in the U.K. would face gaps.

The draft Environment (Principles and Governance) Bill sets out how the government will maintain environmental standards as the UK leaves the EU. It also details how the UK will build on the vision of the 25 Year Environment Plan.

This includes creating an independent body – the Office for Environmental Protection (OEP) – which will:

• scrutinise environmental law and the government’s environmental improvement plan (EIP)

• investigate complaints on environmental law

• take enforcement action on environmental law

The draft Bill commits the government to publishing a policy statement which will set out how ministers should interpret and apply environmental principles. It also commits government to have a plan for environmental improvement.

In essence this Bill is the first part of the broader Environment Bill (not yet published). The broader Environment Bill will also include measures on air quality, nature recovery, waste and resource efficiency and water management. A policy paper is also published today (in connection with the Environment Bill). This policy paper is here.

New Environment Bill (UK)

Today 18th July (in fact just now), the UK Prime Minister announced the Government will bring forward the first Environment Bill since 1995. This is a highly significant development. At the Liaison Committee (of select committee chairs) underway at the moment, Mrs May stated this would encompass more ambitious objectives for air quality and also the opportunities that leaving the EU might bring.

I will issue a new Blog post when further detail is published. And obviously, in due course, Email Alert(s) will be issued to subscribers to the Cardinal Environment EHS Legislation Registers and Law Checklists.