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‘Clear Direction’ Needed From New Defra Head

The snap election in June led to a UK Government reshuffle, and the surprise appointment of Michael Gove to the position of Secretary of State for the Environment.

With so much political movement taking place in the UK over the last twelve months, and with the Brexit negotiations commencing days after the election, concerns have been raised about the progress of resource efficiency.

Industry groups have now taken the opportunity to welcome Gove to the role, and urge him to provide clear commitment and direction for the sector. CIWM, the professional body for the resource and waste management sector, has written to the new minister to stress the importance that resource productivity and efficiency can play in supporting the UK’s industrial strategy. The letter urges for a clear and stable future policy direction to 2030 and beyond, and highlights that although the sector provides over 100,000 jobs and almost £7bn Gross Value Added to the economy, progress is being hampered through waste crime and an uncertain policy landscape.

These arguments were echoed by the Trade Association Group (TAG) of the resources and waste management industry. TAG have called on Michael Gove to tackle the “escalating” levels of waste crime, and says the government should
set out a long-term policy framework to provide security in the sector and build upon legislation implemented by the EU. Both TAG and CIWM have requested urgent meetings to discuss the way forward for the industry.

Gove’s new role in charge of the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) will involve EU exit work and the overall policy programme, which means that he will be responsible for ensuring all relevant EU energy
and environmental regulations are transposed into UK law following Brexit. He will also oversee the 25-year plan for the environment. It had been reported that this much-delayed plan, which was promised last year, faced further delays.

However, at a speech to the WWF last week, Gove recognised the impatience around the plan. He said he wanted to make it as ambitious as possible, and has written to the Natural Capital Committee (NCC) asking them to draw up advice on what it should aim to achieve and how. Although no date was set, Gove said the committee would provide its advice in September, “laying the ground for subsequent publication of our plan”.

We will continue to keep all of our WEEE compliance and packaging compliance members, clients and partners informed of changes as the EU exit negotiations progress. If you are a WEEE or packaging compliance member and have any questions about the impact of the UK’s departure from the EU, please get in touch with a member of our team on 0845 129 7177.

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