UK ministers have recently published the long due principles that will take care of Government decision-making. It is said that they aim to put the environment at the core of their policy. However the document relieves the Treasury and the Ministry of Defence from being obliged by the principles.

The environmentalists protest that the principles do not make any sense since the government accepts the activities that will impair the planet. This includes activities likes the planned Cumbria coal mine and a £27bn road building programme.

The principles have been detailed in a consultation document associated to the Environment Bill.  Post Brexit, the principles will substitute those agreed by the EU.

The Environment Secretary George Eustice commented, “We want to embed the environment in the design, development and delivery of the government’s work. Our environmental principles are essential, and will ensure that ministers across Whitehall are guided to not just protect the environment, but tackle problems at their origin.”

The legally-binding statement would present chief environmental propositions as said by George Eustice. It comprises of:

  • The integration principle – It signifies that policy-makers should look for prospects to include environmental protection in different fields of policy that have bearings on the environment – such as transport or business.
  • The prevention principle – Policy should target to prevent or, diminish the harm.
  • The polluter pays principle – those responsible for damage should be held for mitigation or compensation
  • The precautionary principle – It asks for being cautious where there is potential for serious or irreversible environmental harm, however the matter presently lacks scientific certainty.

“We welcome this, but it’s what happens on the ground that really matters. We need hard targets and legally binding commitments to address the nature and climate emergencies.” said Crispin Truman from CPRE, the countryside charity.

The UK government’s present planning and transport policies would also need a main renovation.

“It’s also astonishing to see the government champion these principles while giving the green light to a new coal mine in Cumbria.”The CPRE commented that what they referred to as mismatch between green principles and real policies was an instance of “glaring hypocrisy”.

Ben Halfpenny, from the Greener UK alliance of green groups, besieged his criticism at the wording of the 20-page statement. He pointed out at textual differences between how the proposed UK government principles, related with their EU precursors.

He observed that the document consists of 19 references to the word “proportionately“ and also raised the idea that actions should be “cost effective”, which lets plenty of wriggle-room.

“Whereas the old approach would ensure big decisions considered issues related to the principles and applied them proportionately to protect the environment, the new approach seeks to make environmental issues proportionate to other factors, such as economic considerations, in the making of the decision,” he mentioned.

He further says, “The old approach made sure principles directly applied to government ministers and public authorities. The new approach only requires certain ministers to consider the principles, with key carve-outs for the Treasury and Defence.” which makes it a week protection he mentioned.