New EAC details first inquiries

The newly-appointed Environmental Audit Committee (EAC) has announced details of its first two inquiries, which will explore sustainable development and the proposed third runway at Heathrow Airport.

Some of the members of the EAC

According to the 16-member committee, which was officially appointed by The House of Commons on Monday (20 July), sustainable development includes ‘protecting the environment, supporting the low carbon economy and improving wellbeing’ and has the potential to be worth ‘billions of pounds to the UK economy’.

Figures cited by EAC claim that the low carbon economy generated over £120 billion in turnover in 2013.

As such, the EAC has designated the next five years a ‘crucial’ period for determining the government’s level of support for sustainable development, as a number of ‘key policies’ are soon up for renewal or replacement.

It aims to evaluate the impact that the new government’s fiscal and legislative agenda will have on sustainable development, and establish measures against which its policy successes can be judged.

Stakeholders have been invited to provide responses to a number of questions that will feed into the committee’s work over the duration of the Parliament, including:

  • What key policies are needed over the course of this Parliament to adequately protect the environment, promote growth in the low carbon sector and improve wellbeing?
  • Does the government’s current fiscal and legislative agenda accord with the action required and, if not, why not and where might it be improved? 
  • Where should responsibility lie in government for ensuring the sustainable development approach is adopted by all government departments?
  • What metrics could the committee use to monitor the government’s performance on sustainable development over the course of the Parliament? 

Responses are limited to 1,500 words, and must be submitted by 2 September 2015.

Third runway could threaten Lakeside incinerator

The EAC has also launched an inquiry into the implications for government commitments on carbon emissions, air quality and noise, should the Airport Commission’s recommendation of a third runway at Heathrow Airport be adopted.

Published on 1 July 2015, the Airport Commission’s report unanimously recommended the building of a third runway to the northwest of Heathrow Airport, ‘subject to a package of measures to mitigate the environmental and community impacts’.

The EAC is seeking submissions to help determine whether or not these measures are ‘realistic and achievable’ and whether viable alternatives exist, as well as to understand the steps government must take to ensure any proposals are ‘consistent with its commitments on sustainable development’.

If given the go ahead, the development would force the closure of Lakeside EfW, an energy-from-waste plant located in Colnbrooke near Slough. Currently, the incinerator burns 410,000 tonnes of residual waste each year, generating 37 megawatts of power in the process.

EFRA agenda delayed

In other parliamentary news, the new Environmental, Food and Rural Affairs Committee (EFRA) has stated that it has not yet decided the shape of its future work programme, but may take evidence on this in September.

It has already issued a call on social media outlet Twitter for members of the public to submit their thoughts on the main environment, food and rural issues in the UK. Respondents are asked to use the hasthtag #EFRAtopics or  send 100 words via email to [email protected] with the subject line: EFRA Topics.

New EFRA Committee Chair, Neil Parish MP, said: “Any of my committee’s inquiries will only be as good as the evidence we receive, and we want to make sure that as wide a range of people as possible contribute to our work. With limited time we can’t promise to tackle everything but we want our work programme to take into account of the public’s views on what the top topics should be. We all look forward to a lively debate.

“We all very much look forward to working with you, the public, and to hearing your ideas of how the environment, food and rural affairs Committee can take action to help create a cleaner environment, greater food security and a more prosperous farming industry.”

EFRA’s role is to examine the expenditure, policy and administration of the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra).

Find out more about the EAC, or the EFRA

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