Memoranda from the Department for Transport,
Local Government and the Regions
DEPARTMENTAL RESPONSIBILITIES FOR SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT
1. The Secretary of State for Transport,
Local Government and the Regions (the Rt Hon Stephen Byers MP)
has agreed to appear before the Environmental Audit Committee
on 22 November 2001 when the Committee will discuss a number of
issues relating to environmental protection and sustainable development.
This Memorandum sets out the Department's position on a number
of issues raised by the Committee in advance of the Secretary
of State's appearance.
How important is it for Government to establish
the correct allocation of Ministerial responsibilities and the
correct structure within Whitehall, for the effective delivery
2. The Government believes that it is vital
to have structures that enable it to deliver its priorities as
effectively as possible.
3. After the General Election the Prime
Minister made a number of major changes to the machinery of Government.
The outcome of these changes was a set of streamlined departments
with a sharper focus on the Government's key priorities for delivery
of public services.
4. For example, this enabled the Government
to create a new Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs,
bringing agriculture and the wider rural economy together with
environment and countryside issues. There is clear synergy between
these issues and the creation of DEFRA will capitalise on this.
In what ways do the Department's overall objectives
incorporate and reflect a commitment to sustainable development?
5. The Departments overarching aim is better
transport and thriving, prosperous, safe communities. The Government's
commitment to sustainable development is central to the achievement
of that goal. Underpinning the Department's overarching aim are
a number of high level objectives. They are:
(i) Reliable, safe and integrated transport
for everyone, which respects the environment,
(ii) A sustainable pattern of land use, promoted
by an efficient planning system,
(iii) A high quality of life for all in our
towns and cities,
(iv) The renewal of our most deprived communities,
(v) A decent home for everyone,
(vi) Effective community leadership and high
quality public services,
(vii) Successful regions, which develop a
strategic vision for the future through elected local government,
(viii) Improved health and safety by reducing
risks from work activity, buildings and fire,
(ix) Improved transport safety and crime
All the above objectives contribute to the four
main aims of the Government's overall sustainable development
social progress which recognises
the needs of everyone;
effective protection of the environment;
prudent use of natural resources;
maintenance of high and stable levels
of economic growth and employment.
6. Furthermore, DTLR's Service Delivery
Agreement (which states how the above objectives are to be delivered)
sets out which of the sustainable development indicators as published
in Quality of Life Counts are affected by each of the above objectives.
That approach reflects the Committee's earlier recommendation
in its Third Report Comprehensive Spending Review: Government
Response and Follow Up, published on 14 February 2000.
7. DTLR has lead responsibility for three
of the 15 "headline" indicators in Quality of Life Counts,
on housing, road traffic and land use. In addition, many of the
Department's policies and programmes impact on the other headline
indicators. For example, the 10 Year Plan for Transport will contribute
to the improvement of air quality and the reduction of greenhouse
To what extent will splitting lead responsibility
for the environment and for transport between two departments
hinder or enhance the Government's ability to deliver a sustainable
transport policy? What benefits did the Government expect to derive
from this arrangement?
8. The transfer of lead responsibility for
environmental issues from DETR to DEFRA does not change our approach
to transport and the environment. The Department is committed
to a sustainable transport policy. The Government's 10 Year Plan
for Transport will help to achieve economic, social and environmental
objectives now and in the longer term. The contribution of the
Plan to sustainable development is assessed through an appraisal
system which takes into account sustainable development objectives
and processes. The delivery of the Plan is embedded in the Government's
environmental strategies: in particular the national air quality
strategy and our commitments under the Kyoto protocol.
9. There will continue to be strong links
between transport and the environment (as reflected in objective
(i) in paragraph 5 above). DEFRA and DTLR will work closely together
to ensure that policies take into account environmental impact
and help promote sustainable development. As part of that close
liaison, a senior DEFRA official sits on the DTLR Transport Board.
10. As the Prime Minister said when he announced
the major package of machinery of Government changes after the
General Election, when taken together they will ensure a much
sharper focus on the Government's priorities and the need to deliver
better public services.
Has any protocol been established between the
DTLR and DEFRA to aid effective communications and co-operation
on sustainable development and environmental protection?
11. A concordat has been developed and agreed
between DEFRA and DTLR which builds on the continuing good working
relations on sustainable development, including environmental
matters, between the two Departments.
12. The concordat covers working arrangements
between Ministers and officials in areas such as transport, planning,
rural affairs, sustainable development, Press Offices and the
management of former DETR NDPBs. It also paves the way for promoting
the common agenda on transport and the environment and on the
relationship between the rural and urban agenda, including joint
Does DLTR have any plans to develop its own Sustainable
Development strategy or environmental protection statement as
some departments have done? If so, what progress has been made?
If not why not?
13. The Department does plan to develop
its own sustainable development strategy, so that the principles
of sustainable development are fully integrated into the work
of the new Department. The strategy will be published in the course
of 2002 after consultation with DEFRA and the Sustainable Development
Commission. In the meantime, the Department has:
(i) established a new sustainable development
team within the Department; and nominated a Board member as sustainable
(ii) developed an integrated policy
appraisal methodology which considers social, economic and environmental
issues simultaneously (see paragraph 15 below); and
(iii) is using of a summary version
of that methodology in formulating the Departments Spending Review
14. The Department would welcome comments
from the Committee on what it would expect to see in the Department's
sustainable development strategy.
Has your department set up any Steering Group
(or other management committee) to oversee the integration of
environmental issues into policy and operations? Does it plan
to do so?
15. The DTLR Board itself takes a direct
interest in sustainable development, and has agreed the arrangements
for handling sustainable development in the Department, and has
discussed and agreed the use of integrated policy appraisal. We
expect integration of environmental and other sustainable development
objectives in policy making to be better achieved by implementation
of the Integrated Policy Appraisal (IPA) tool. Work on this is
being led by DTLR, under the supervision of a steering group of
policy makers and economists from DTLR and DEFRA. The tool will
provide policy makers with a framework for assessment of their
proposals against a series of environmental, social and economic
impacts. A preliminary version of the IPA tool is being used as
the basic means of assembling evidence for DTLR and DEFRA's sustainable
development reports for their SR2002 bids.
16. DLTR and DEFRA also operate a joint
Appraisal Group which provides a forum for the discussion of methodological
issues on appraisal and evaluation, and in which environmental
issues feature prominently. This covers environmental, rural and
countryside policy issues which are now the responsibility of
DEFRA, as well as all DTLR policy areas. After consultation with
policy colleagues in ex-MAFF, it is hoped to extend the remit
to include agricultural issues. Membership is drawn from both
analyst experts and policy officials in DTLR and DEFRA.
17. Alan Whitehead (Green Minister) has
responsibility for both sustainable development and greening operations
issues. A greening operations policy statement will be issued
shortly. Greening operations is co-ordinated by the environmental
management team in DLTR's Commercial Directorate. The team links
with Agency Chief Executives and local "green" contacts
and adopts a collaborative approach to agreeing DLTR policy and
targets. Dr Whitehead meets regularly with the environmental management
team to discuss green issue progress and performance. DEFRA is
represented on a working level group, chaired by the DTLR Board
sustainable development champion.
18. The Department has set itself targets
for the greening of its operations and made good progress against
these, including a reduction in energy usage, the procurement
of electricity from renewable sources; reduced water consumption
at our metered sites, an increase in the amount of waste that
is recycled, and the development of travel plans for all significant
buildings. Earlier this month, the Department's Driver and Vehicle
Licensing Agency won an award for recycling, and the Department
also received an award for developing and leading a collaborative
contract for recycled paper for printed publications.
What is the timetable for the current review of
planning procedures? How has environmental protection and sustainable
development been built into that review?
19. As the Prime Minister stated at the
CBI National Conference on 5 November, we intend to publish a
Green Paper on the review of the land use planning system in December.
A copy of the Green Paper will be sent to the Committee when it
is published. The consultation period will last until Easter.
20. The Green Paper is only one part of
the review of planning. In addition:
A consultation paper on planning
obligations/s. 106 agreements will appear shortly after the Green
A consultation document about compulsory
purchase and compensation will also appear shortly after the Green
In addition we plan to issue a consultation
paper on Parliamentary procedures for major infrastructure projects.
21. The Green Paper is about process rather
than about policy. However, the Committee can be assured that
the text of the Green Paper takes account of and reflects Government
policy on, inter alia, sustainable development.
20 November 2001