EAC calls for creation of 'Office for Environmental Responsibility'
The UK government has been given a ‘red card’ for its efforts to reduce health-damaging air pollution, protect biodiversity and prevent flooding in a scorecard assessment of its green policies during this Parliament produced by the Environmental Audit Committee (EAC).
The report comes as the main political parties prepare for their manifesto-setting party conferences. The Committee calls for the creation of new legal commitments to protect the environment, to be overseen by a new 'Office for Environmental Responsibility' to ensure all Government policies are compatible with those commitments.
On air pollution the report finds that emissions of a number of airborne pollutants increased in 2013, after being steady between 2010 and 2012 and in a longer term decline before that. While on biodiversity, the latest Sustainable Development Indicators show a deterioration in the counts for three out of four types of bird populations, used as a litmus test for the SDI's ‘UK wildlife' indicator. Invasive species, which harm native biodiversity, are becoming more prevalent.
And with regards to flooding and coastal protection, the report points out that while the Environment Agency and local defences protected properties in approximately 1.3m instances, 2.4m properties are still at risk of flooding from rivers or the sea, and 3m from surface water.
Chair of the committee, Joan Walley MP, said: “Our inquiry provides a wide ranging examination of the state of the environment and shows that further and continued effort is required to protect it properly. A dedicated, wide-ranging ‘Environmental Strategy’ is needed, overseen by a new ‘Office for Environmental Responsibility’ to ensure the Government meets the requirements to protect human health and the natural world.”
Picture credit: © Mrallen | Dreamstime.com - York Floods - Sept.2012 - UK Photo