The government has pushed back the release of biodiversity and clean water goals, which is a violation of the Environment Act, ministers have acknowledged.
Therese Coffey secretary for environment released a statement from the ministerial level on Friday, confirming that the objectives that are the basis for the natural recovery of the country would not be announced on the 31st of October as had been promised.
This could end up being a shambles at the Cop27 UN climate discussions in November, because the deadline was set in order that the group would be able to present biodiversity and nature goals to be able to show other countries.
Coffey did not provide any new dates for publication of the targets. It is believed to be highly unlikely that they will be released before mid-week of this year’s global climate summit, the time that biodiversity and nature are likely to be the topics of discussion.
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The statement says that, in the wake of an “significant popular response” in response to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs consultation regarding nature recovery, “we will not be in a position to release targets before 31 October, which is the deadline set under the act”.
The department’s spokesperson said that it would “continue to move at a rapid pace to legislative drafts as soon as possible” and said the government would “remain dedicated to our long-term plan to stop the decline of species by 2030”.
Caroline Lucas, the Green party’s MP, stated: “Defra admits in a short statement released today that it’s in breach of its legal obligation to announce targets for the environment bill. This is important. But the government claims that they will revise 570 green laws by the end of the year under the current EU legislation bill! Madness.”
The government is accused of ruining its image of the environment by threatening to repeal over 500 laws on environmental protection in the previously enacted EU legislation bill. This is because of the sunset clause, which is scheduled to expire at the end of the year. At that point, the bills that are not ratified or amended by parliament will become invalid. Some critics say it’s unlikely that the government will revise the hundreds of laws that are in force at that point.
Environmental groups, including those from the RSPB, Wildlife Trusts and National Trust have accused the government of an “attack on nature” in its policies, which include weakening the protections for the environment for investment zones, the reintroduced EU law, and the threat to cut down on new environmental-friendly agriculture subsidies. The Truss administration was informed that nature organizations were lying to increase membership.
Coffey is working to ease tensions by scheduling a meeting with the leaders of the groups on Friday, but the latest failure of the government will likely make the task even more challenging.
Craig Bennett, the chief executive of the Wildlife Trusts, told the Guardian: “It’s both astonishing and disgraceful that the current government has not delivered in accordance with the Environment Act, which it adopted only several months ago, and which , earlier this week, the prime minister stated that we all should view as an opportunity to be proud.
“If it lacks the capacity, bandwidth and determination to set some targets to improve the health of nature What makes it imagine it will have the ability to look at more than 570 items of environmental legislation over the coming 12 months according to the dreadful retained EU laws bill? The new premier as well as the secretary of State have been in place for a couple of days, but I am urging them to tackle this mess as fast as they will.”
Environment secretary in shadow Jim McMahon, described the delay in meeting this deadline as “a massive embarrassment for them , and deeply concerned for the UK’s environment”.
“Failing in meeting the legally-binding deadline to set goals to ensure that there is pure air, land, and water is an enormous breach of duty,” he said. “This is yet another case of the Conservatives talking about nothing about the environment, but not being able to act with the authority and action that is vitally required.”
Coffey stated: “I was part of the ministerial team who formulated the environmental plan over the course of 25 years and also drafted the environmental bill which was introduced to parliament in the year 2019. Defra continues to work in a fast-paced manner to finish these environmental goals.”
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