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#ViewsOnTheNews: Consultation launched on environmental principles

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The hotly anticipated Environment Bill is set to return with the next session of Parliament in May. The Bill will set out the UK’s ambitions and commitments to the Environment in law. Last week the Government launched a consultation into five legally binding principles that will guide the future of environmental policy moving forward. 

The principles are:

  1. The integration principle is the principle which states that policy-makers should look for opportunities to embed environmental protection in other fields of policy that have impacts on the environment.
  2. The prevention principle means that government policy should aim to prevent, reduce or mitigate harm.
  3. The rectification at source principle means that if damage to the environment cannot be prevented it should be tackled at its origin.
  4. The polluter pays principle is the principle that those who cause pollution or damage to the environment should be responsible for mitigation or compensation.
  5. The precautionary principle states that where there are threats of serious or irreversible environmental damage, a lack of scientific certainty shall not be used as a reason for postponing cost-effective measures to prevent environmental degradation.

These five internationally recognised principles will serve as the backbone to the Government’s intention to build back better greener, a reference point for all future policy development.

The Government is currently consulting on the draft policy statement which will set out how these principles should be interpreted and applied. The policy will be circulated across all departments to support and guide ministers and civil servants to prevent environmental damage and promote innovation and sustainable development. 

Higginson says:

“These principles sit behind all else in the development of government policy on the environment, and the integration principle means that the environmental protection should be embedded in what every government department does.  

“They are welcome pillars on which a growing green agenda can stand, but the real tests are in the opportunities taken – or missed – to lead Europe as a green pioneer neighbour to the European Union.  

“There is a chance for ministers to go further and faster on reducing single-use conventional plastic production and import in the UK, to embed anti-plastic measures through UK supply chains, and to catalyse investment in innovative alternative materials.  

“We’re working to see the long-awaited Environment Bill strengthened to give additional meaning to these principles, ensuring ‘global Britain’ really does show the world the way on plastics.”

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