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CIEEM welcomes Select Committee report on NERC Act

CIEEM welcomes Select Committee report on NERC Act

22 Mar 2018

The Chartered Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management (CIEEM) has welcomed the House of Lords Select Committee’s report The countryside at a crossroads: Is the Natural Environment and Rural Communities Act 2006 still fit for purpose?

CIEEM President, Dr Stephanie Wray said: “I read with great pleasure their Lordships' recommendations. It is clear that they have listened to, and acted upon, the evidence of CIEEM and other environmental bodies. We particularly welcome their recommendations regarding the need for a new and powerful environmental watchdog, restoring both the independence and funding of Natural England, devoting appropriate funding to the Nature Recovery Network, delivering biodiversity net gain, and strengthening the ‘biodiversity duty’ on public bodies.”

CIEEM responded to the inquiry last year with written evidence, and Dr Wray presented oral evidence to the Committee as well.

The recommendations from the report include:

  • Responsibility for rural affairs should be transferred from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs to the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government. This change would ensure that responsibility for rural communities sits within the central Government department that is responsible for communities as a whole as, indeed, it did prior to the creation of Defra.
  • Natural England should be funded to a level commensurate with the delivery of its full range of statutory duties and responsibilities. Natural England no longer has a distinctive voice, and urge the Government to take action in recognition of these concerns.
  • Responsibility for promoting and embedding rural proofing across Government departments should be assigned to the Cabinet Office, within a single purpose unit with the necessary resources and experience required to exert influence on all departments.
  • The NERC Act should be amended in order to add a reporting requirement to the biodiversity duty; the Government should also consider strengthening the wording of the duty.

In addition, CIEEM is acutely aware of the fact that many Natural England staff members feel demoralised because of the high rate of change within the organisation and because of ongoing reductions to resources. Yet these staff members are still trying to deliver their objectives to the highest standards. Natural England has also had much of its power and influence removed, with the latest step being the removal of the administration of agri-environment schemes to the Rural Payments Agency.

Read the report

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