The CIWEM is frustrated that the current Government seems to be determined to bring the environment to its knees through a series of ill-conceived policy choices, such as the abolition of the Environment Agency’s statutory advisory committees. CIWEM and its partner organisations are calling for a review of this decision.

Local delivery of environmental improvement via ‘Big Society’-style initiatives led by charities, local communities and NGOs is attractive but there must be co-ordination and advice provided. CIWEM believes that an asset-stripped Environment Agency will be unable to fulfil this important guidance role. European law, such as the Water Framework Directive, organises management on a large scale and, without the statutory committees, the results will be disjointed and lacking in strategic direction.

The statutory committees are the only bodies able to hold the Environment Agency to account and question direction and strategies. There is a clear need for a regional advisory body to be established on the current Agency/water company boundaries. Membership should be drawn from a wide range of relevant stakeholders including conservation, fisheries, industry, academia, local authorities, professional institutes and charities. It should be able to draw upon the collated views from more local groups and be able to offer advice to the Agency on a spectrum of environmental issues. Without such a forum, both the Agency and the environment will lose out.

Justin Taberham, CIWEM’s Director of Policy says: “One of the main routes to disaster for the environmental sector is the abolition of the Environment Agency’s statutory advisory committees, which have been treated like a sacrificial lamb by the Government just to save small sums of money. The Regional Fisheries, Ecology and Recreation Committees (RFERACs) and the Regional Environmental Protection Advisory Committees (REPACs) were axed, but not the Regional Flood Defence Committees – not a surprise as the flooding and landowner sectors undoubtedly were able to summon more political clout than the environmentalists. The Government must acknowledge that, like their decision to sell of our forests, they have got this wrong and should make a rapid u-turn on this policy.”

CIWEM is supporting the Institute of Fisheries Management’s statement ‘Abolition Of The Environment Agency’s Statutory Advisory Committees’, which is co-signed by broadcaster Professor Chris Baines, Labour politician Colin Challen, Director of the Black and Environment Network Judy Ling Wong CBE, Carbon Coach Dave Hampton, former General Secretary of the GMB Trade Union and Chair of the Inland Waterways Amenity Advisory Council John Edmonds and CIWEM.

Source: The Chartered Institution of Water and Environmental Management (CIWEM)

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