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.

New SSSI for Tees Estuary (England)

Natural England has today confirmed its 2018 notification of the Teesmouth and Cleveland Coast Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) – map area here. Citation is here.

The Tees Estuary is a unique environment where industrial facilities share the landscape with a wide range of coastal habitats which teem with wildlife.

There were previously seven SSSIs protecting parts of the Tees Estuary, which have now been merged and expanded into a single, landscape-scale SSSI, totaling nearly 3000 hectares (or 12 square miles).

The extensions have more than doubled the area of SSSI in the Tees Estuary. Additional areas of sand-dune, saltmarsh, mudflat, grassland, lagoons and estuarial waters are protected, along with the populations of breeding and wintering birds, the iconic population of harbour seals and sand-dune invertebrates.

The extended SSSI also continues to protect two areas of nationally-important geology, notably the mysterious prehistoric ‘submerged forest’, a part of which was exposed on the beach at Redcar after the ‘Beast from the East’ in 2018.

Natural England provides advice on day-to-day operations on the estuary ‘up front’ to set out how current activities can take place in a way that continues to allow wildlife to flourish. The advice is set out in the Memorandum of Understanding of the Tees Estuary Partnership, which has a vision to enhance both the economic and environmental assets of the area.

Per the Natural England press release – The approach embodies the ambitions set out in Defra’s 25 Year Environment Plan, which seeks to put people at the heart of nature by working closely with others and developing shared objectives at a landscape-scale.

The consultation on the SSSI took place alongside a consultation on the extension of the existing Special Protection Area (SPA) and Ramsar site to include additional marine, coastal and freshwater habitats and new bird species for protection. Following the consultation, Natural England will submit its recommendations on these extensions to DEFRA for consideration.

Natural England also designates the Teesmouth National Nature Reserve, and the long sandy beaches, and harbour seal haul-outs are integral and well-loved parts of the local landscapes.

[we welcome Tony Juniper to his role at Natural England, and hope for many more such announcements]

IPBES Report on Biodiversity Loss (International)

A new global report by the UN Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) published yesterday, finds that 1 million species are at risk of extinction — more than ever before in human history.

The Global Assessment Report on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services, prepared by 145 leading experts from 50 countries, examines the causes of biodiversity and ecosystem change, the implications for people, as well as policy options and likely future pathways over the next three decades. It provides an integrated overview of where the world stands in relation to key international goals, including the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the Paris Agreement on climate change. In addition to including more than 15,000 scientific and government sources, the report also cites indigenous and local knowledge.

Beginning with the UN Secretary General’s Summit in September and running through the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) in 2020, governments are now asked to present commitments.

The media release is here.

The Convention timeline to 2020 is here.

A major UK contribution is the UK Government Commission of Prof Dasgupta, University of Cambridge, to lead a UK government review of the economics of biodiversity. I Blog posted before about this announcement, made recently by the Chancellor.

Information about this Commission is here.

Events today 13th March (UK Brexit, Chancellor’s Statement)

Today a number of key events occurred as follows :

(1) (time limited, no deal) UK customs tariffs were published – a Commons Research Paper gives further details – here. [NB : this Blog does not focus on customs tariffs]

(2) time limited (no deal) special arrangements for the international border on the island of Ireland were publishedhere.

* The UK government would not introduce any new checks or controls on goods at the land border between Ireland and Northern Ireland, including no customs requirements for nearly all goods.

* The UK temporary import tariff announced today would therefore not apply to goods crossing from Ireland into Northern Ireland.

* The UK government would only apply a small number of measures strictly necessary to comply with international legal obligations, protect the biosecurity of the island of Ireland, or to avoid the highest risks to Northern Ireland businesses – but these measures would not require checks at the border.

(3) the UK Chancellor announced :

* Consultation on a new business energy efficiency scheme for SMEshere.

* A review of the Aggregates Levy (put in place in 2002) – here.

* A call for evidence on the strengthening of the UK’s offshore oil and gas decommissioning industryhere.

Offshore oil and gas decommissioning industry – A call for evidence, as announced at Budget 2018, seeking to identify what more should be done to strengthen Scotland and the rest of the UK’s position as a global hub for safe, environmentally-friendly decommissioning that meets the Oil and Gas Authority’s ambitious cost reduction targets.

* A Review on the Economics of Biodiversity – A new global review, led by Professor Sir Partha Dasgupta, to assess the economic value of biodiversity and to identify actions that will simultaneously enhance biodiversity and deliver economic prosperity. The review will report in 2020, ahead of the 15th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biodiversity in Beijing in October that year.

* Re Biodiversity and conservation in Overseas Territories – A call for evidence inviting creative ideas from stakeholders on how the government can safeguard the biodiversity found in the Overseas Territories.

* Red Diesel: Response to Call for Evidence – A summary of responses to the May 2018 call for evidence on red diesel and air quality.

* In the Environment Bill (so far we have only seen part of the Environment Bill) – mandate net gains for biodiversity on new developments in England to deliver an overall increase in biodiversity.

(4) the Government’s motion to rule out leaving the EU on 29th March 2019 without a Withdrawal Agreement and associated Political Declaration was amended to make it apply universally, and then agreed.

Tomorrow, a Government motion to seek consensus on a delay in the exit date to 30 June 2019 will be debated in Parliament. Note : any delay will require EU approval.

I will issue a new Blog post on the matter of the exit day, tomorrow.

Remember : in international and domestic law the exit day is 29th March 2019.

CITES protected species (UK Brexit)

Instructions were issued recently on how trade in endangered species protected by international CITES convention will operate to and from the UK. CITES applies to listed endangered plants and animals. The instructions are here.

CITES-listed species are listed in Annexes A to D of the EU Wildlife Trade Regulations.

Species in Annex A have the highest level of protection. The instructions state a UK based organisation would still need to apply for a certificate to use an Annex A specimen commercially.

Annex B, C and D species can currently be freely traded in the EU.

The main change will be that a UK based organisation will need CITES permits to move CITES goods between the UK and the EU for species listed in Annexes B to D.

Further information is set out in the instructions.

Note : as with all these current Brexit instructions, a deal (or deals) reached with the EU may change aspects of the instructions. Please keep following this Blog.

New National Planning Policy Framework (England)

The long anticipated revision to the National Planning Policy Framework applicable in England has today (24th July) been published, here.

This replaces the 2012 Framework. The planning practice guidance to support the framework is also published online (here).

The Press Release is here.

The viability guidance is also updated – here.

25-yr Environment Plan (UK)

The UK issued a few moments ago, its long awaited 25-yr Environment Plan. The Plan is here.

I will update this post on the Blog here with the Plan key commitments, targets and schedules. Please note, the updates will not be sent as emails to your inbox (the original post is emailed). So make a note, to check back on the Blog post itself.

UPDATE

Pledges :

(1) eliminate avoidable plastic waste by 2042,

(2) remove exceptions in England plastic bag regulations [the latest amendment to the EU Packaging and Packing Waste Directive stipulates measures on plastic bags by end 2018, plus the European Commission’s Plastics Strategy is announced next week – I will write a separate Blog post about it],

(2)(a) consultation in a charge for single-use plastic containers,

(3) protect ancient woodland and plant more trees, a new Tree Champion to be appointed after the National Planning Policy Framework is updated,

(4) retain strong targets for wildlife, water and air,

(5) “polluter pays” and “public money for public goods” as guiding principles for future farming policy (plus subsidy reform from 2024 (2022-2024 consultation) – this may be set out in the forthcoming Brexit Agriculture Bill),

(6) sustainable drainage to make cities safer from floods – new planning guidelines,

(7) healthcare that takes advantage of green prescriptions – preventative care that can make the most of “natural health service”,

(8) nature integrated in urban communities – net nature gain in new developments (possibly via the revamp of the National Planning Policy Framework,

(9) a new Watchdog to hold government to account – a new environment body to replace the activities of the EU’s Commission and Courts (this was an earlier DEFRA announcement – see recent Blog posts – the next step is consultation),

(10) nature targets (little detail),

(11) “leave the environment in a better state than they found it”, “the goals of our 25 year environment plan are simple: clean air, clean and plentiful water, plants and animals which are thriving, and a cleaner, greener country for us all. A better world for each of us to live in and a better future for the next generation.”,

(12) a miscellany of other pledges with little attached detail.

Note : the objectives in the plan itself add relatively little to the European and international commitments the UK is already signed up to.

But : the UK is meant to achieve good ecological status for all water bodies by the mid 2020s under the EU Water Framework Directive. The commitment in this 25-yr plan to achieve good water quality “as soon as practicable” is a lesser target.

Also : there is no mention of implementation of the forthcoming EU Circular Economy amendments to six existing Waste Directives.

Plus : there is no mention of the EU “precautionary principle’, particularly relevant to chemicals.