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  • by Karma Loveday

Government consults on environmental principles to guide all policy-making

The government is consulting until 2 June on the Draft Policy Statement on Environmental Principles it published last week. This legally binding statement sets out how the five environmental principles that ministers across Whitehall will have to be guided by when making policy under the terms of the Environment Bill should be interpreted and applied.

The principles are:

  • the integration 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;

  • the prevention principle, which means that government policy should aim to prevent, reduce or mitigate harm;

  • the rectification at source principle, which means that if damage to the environment cannot be prevented it should be tackled at its origin;

  • the polluter pays principle, which states those who cause pollution or damage to the environment should be responsible for mitigation or compensation; and

  • the precautionary principle, which 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.

Defra said it will support government departments in understanding and applying the requirements of the new duty in their policymaking. It will provide information workshops and training, and incorporate the principles into existing government policy guidance documents, such as the Treasury’s Green Book.


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