Memorandum submitted by Department for
Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
1. What are the advantages and disadvantages
of the new structure for Government Departments in terms of delivery
of environmental and sustainable development policy and objectives?
It is more a question of differences than advantages
and disadvantages. The Government is committed to addressing environmental,
social and economic objectives together in all policy and decision
making areas. The previous structure offered the opportunity for
synergy between environmental policies and policy areas such as
transport and regeneration. The new structure offers a similar
opportunity for environmental/food and farming/rural affairs synergybuilding
on close MAFF/DETR collaboration on the pre-Election White Paper
Our countryside: the future. A fair deal for rural England.
A good case can be made for both configurations.
Bur the real issue is the importance of integration, of making
the right connections between symptoms and causes of a problem
and between policies and Departments to find solutions. DEFRA
and DTLR have agreed a concordat on liaison arrangements on issues
of common concernbut linkages also need to be made on issues
not covered by the concordat and between DEFRA and other Departments
wherever necessary to ensure joined-up government.
2. Given the opportunities for change presented
by the reorganisation of the Government departments after the
election in June, why was it considered appropriate to locate
the Sustainable Development Unit within DEFRA rather than in the
Cabinet Office, where units responsible for other cross-cutting
issues, such as the Social Exclusion Unit, are located? In practice,
does this decision make it more or less difficult for the Sustainable
Development Unit and DEFRA to engender cross-government commitment
to sustainable development? Please set out the aims and objectives
of the SDU?
The SDU functioned well in DETR under the Minister
for Sustainable Development and Chair of the Green Ministers'
Committee, Michael Meacher. Michael Meacher has retained those
responsibilities in DEFRA (with the Green Ministers' Committee
becoming ENV(G), a sub-committee of ENV), and I see no reason
to re-locate the SDU to another Department.
The commitment to sustainable development is
a Government-wide commitment and the Sustainable Development Unit
has a cross-government mandate. The Unit's location doesn't affect
The aim and objectives of the SDU are:
To work with others to promote sustainable development
within DEFRA, across Government and more widely.
to increase understanding and acceptance
of sustainable development;
to provide a policy framework within
which sustainable development can be achieved in the UK; and
to identify, refine and bring to
bear the tools necessary to deliver sustainable development.
3. DEFRA ran a consultation on the department's
aims and objectives. To what extent do you expect the finally
agreed aims and objectives relating to sustainable development
to be similar to those established by DETR in the last Parliament?
What is the timetable for the consideration of responses to the
consultation and when do you expect a final agreement on aims
DEFRA's aim and objectives in relation to those
areas of responsibility transferred from DETR will inevitably
be similar to those established by DETR, but DEFRA is a new Department
with a new agenda and its aim and objectives reflect the important
synergies between environmental, rural, food and related issues.
DEFRA's aim and objectives were announced on
14 November. They are set out at Annex A. My Ministerial team's
Vision for DEFRA is at Annex B. A summary of responses to the
consultation, including an indication of how these were taken
on board, is available on the DEFRA website (and is at Annex C).
4. The consultation document puts much emphasis
on rural, agricultural and farming policies and environmental
priorities. Does this reflect a fundamental shift in Government
policies, away from urban congestion, urban regeneration and industrial
issues and a means of delivering a "green revolution",
or is it an inevitable consequence of unifying the environmental
parts of DETR with MAFF?
Environmental, rural, food and related issues
have become more complex and are closely inter-related. DEFRA
was formed so that the Government can handle these issues more
effectively within one department. But this in no way diminishes
the importance of the other issues identified in the question,
on which DEFRA will continue to work closely with other relevant
5. The consultation document identifies "the
promotion of sustainable development across Government" as
a key issue for DEFRA. How does the department intend to address
this task. Please provide practical examples of DEFRA's work with
other Government departments in this regard.
We will promote sustainable development across
Government and society, and internationally by:
seeking to ensure that policies and
decisions across government address economic, social and environmental
impacts and achieve sustainable outcomes;
acting as an advocate for the underlying
principles of sustainable developmentsuch as transparency,
information, participation and access to justice and using scientific
knowledgeand highlighting the linkages between these and
other Government priorities, particularly the modernising government
supporting ENV(G), the Cabinet Sub-committee
of Green Ministers whose remit is to look at the impacts of a
wide range of government policies on sustainable development as
well as continuing to improve the performance of the government
monitoring and reporting on progress
by the country as a whole, particularly through the 15 Headline
Indicators of sustainable development; and
leading on sustainable development
policy internationally, particularly in relation to the EU Sustainable
Development Strategy and the World Summit on Sustainable Development
(WSSD) to be held in Johannesburg in September 2002.
DEFRA has worked closely with the
Treasury to ensure that sustainable development issues are considered
and reflected in Departmental bids for the 2002 Spending Review.
Specific guidance on sustainable development has been issued for
the first time and each Department has been asked to produce a
sustainable development report.
DEFRA is working with DTLR, DoH and
CMPS to develop an integrated policy (sustainability) appraisal
framework for use across Government;
DEFRA is working with DTI and OGCbuying.solutions
(the trading arm of HMT) to set up a high level, cross-government
sustainable procurement group, which I announced on 24 October.
This group will look at what can be done within the framework
of EC public procurement directives better to support sustainable
development through Government procurement.
6. What plans does DEFRA have to develop its
own departmental sustainable development strategy? What progress
has been made to date? Will the strategy contain quantifiable
targets and deadlines?
I announced that DEFRA would have its own Departmental
Sustainable Development Strategy on 11 July.
The Departmental strategywhich will of
course take as its starting point the Government's 1999 Strategy
for sustainable development for the UKwill be an enduring
document which identifies the contribution that DEFRA can make
to the achievement of a better quality of life.
It will provide an overarching framework setting
out how all DEFRA policies will be developed in order to meet
economic, social and environmental objectives at the same time.
It will also focus on some priority policy areas which pose the
greatest challenge or can make the greatest contribution to the
achievement of sustainable development.
The strategy will also act as a tool to raise
awareness of sustainable development since it is being developed
in consultation with staff and stakeholders.
Green Alliance held a stakeholder seminar in
October to brainstorm ideas on some priority cross cutting areas
which should be addressed by the strategy, and three overarching
themes emerged from discussions; localism, social inclusion/environmental
justice and innovation. These themes will be tackled in three
further seminars in December. In order to involve a wider group
of stakeholders, we have also set up an online discussion forum
for stakeholders, launched by Michael Meacher on 21 November,
on the Government's sustainable development website. DEFRA staff
will be able to participate in an internal online discussion forum
to be launched by Alun Michael on 30 November. The forum will
go live from that date and will run until 21 December.
The Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR)
have been contracted to undertake some focus groups to gain some
public perspectives on which sustainable development issues DEFRA
should be focusing on. These will be held throughout late November
and early December.
The outcomes from each of the consultation processes
will be fed into development of the strategy in early January.
We are looking to publish the strategy in March 2002.
7. What research, or other work, has DEFRA
commissioned on the development of resource productivity indicators?
When do you expect this work to be completed? How does it relate
to the current Performance and Innovation Unit Review of Resource
DEFRA commissioned research by the Wuppertal
Institute to produce UK estimates for Total Material Resource
Flows. The report of this project will be published shortly and
reference was made to this work in the PIU report "Resource
productivity: making more with less". DEFRA will be working
together with ONS and DTI to develop a series of simple measures
of resource productivity at the national level as recommended
in the PIU report.
8. As a result of the 2000 Spending Review,
DETR adopted a series of objectives and performance measures as
part of its Public Service Agreement. The Secretary of State for
Environment, Transport and the Regions was identified as the person
responsible for ensuring delivery. What is the status of these
PSA objectives and performance targets now that DETR no longer
(a) Has DEFRA assumed responsibility for
some or all of these PSA objectives and performance measures?
Who is responsible for delivery of DETR's PSA objectives and performance
measures which have not been absorbed by DEFRA?
(b) Has such a division of PSA targets
been formerly agreed between those responsible?
(c) What other PSA targets is DEFRA working
DEFRA's PSA targets are set out below. Targets
1 to 4, 6 and 14 have been "transferred" from DETR.
DETR's targets not absorbed by DEFRA are the responsibility of
1. Improve air quality by meeting our National
Air Quality Strategy targets for carbon monoxide, lead, nitrogen
dioxide, particles, sulphur dioxide, benzene and 1-3 butadiene.
2. Improve the environment and the sustainable
use of natural resources, including by reducing greenhouse gas
emissions by 12.5 per cent from 1990 levels and moving towards
a 20 per cent reduction in CO2 emissions by 2010. Joint target
3. Enable 17 per cent of household waste
to be recycled or composted by 2004.
4. Reduce fuel poverty among vulnerable
households by improving the energy efficiency of 600,000 homes
between 2001 and 2004.
5. Deliver the environmental and economic
benefits envisaged in the England Rural Development Plan by 2004
including an increase in the area farmed organically and development
of the rural economy under the new Rural Enterprise Scheme.
6. Bring into favourable condition by 2010
95 per cent of all nationally important wildlife sites, compared
to 60 per cent of sites currently estimated to be in such condition.
7. Care for our living heritage and preserve
natural diversity by reversing the long term decline in the number
of farmland birds by 2020, as measured annually against underlying
8. Secure agreement by March 2004 to reforms
which reduce the cost of the CAP to consumers and taxpayers.
9. Achieve the agriculture strategy, the
modernisation of agriculture, and an increase in the competitiveness
and consumer focus of the food chain as measured by the real food
price index and sustainable competitiveness indicators to be developed
by March 2001.
10. Achieve a reduction of 10 per cent in
the unit cost of administering CAP payments by March 2004, and
95 per cent electronic service delivery capability for such payments
by March 2004 (this is also the value for money target).
11. Reduce the annual incidence of Bovine
Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) to less than 650 cases by 2001
and by 2004 be on track for fewer than 30 cases by 2006. A 99
per cent reduction compared with 1997 when there were 4,312 cases.
12. Reduce the time taken to clear up cases
of poor welfare in farmed animals by 5 per cent by March 2004.
13. Reduce UK fishing effort in those sectors
of the fleet with most overcapacity to 20 per cent below the 1997
level by end 2001. A further target reduction for 2004 will be
set following EU negotiations in 2001.
14. Open up public access to mountain, moor,
heath and down and registered common land by the end of 2005.
9. What were the key outcomes of the recent
talks on climate change at Marrakesh?
The climate change talks in Marrakesh successfully
translated the political agreement reached in Bonn in July on
the implementation of the Kyoto Protocol into detailed legal texts.
We now have in place a global legal framework to implement the
Kyoto Protocol. This includes a detailed compliance system which
provides for tough consequences if a country fails to meet its
obligations. As a result, the regime is likely to be the most
powerful of any multilateral environmental agreement in the world.
The deal also puts in place accounting and reporting requirements,
and detailed rules for the operation of "Kyoto mechanisms",
which allow developed countries to meet their commitments as cost-effectively
The Marrakesh accords should give developed
countries the certainty they need to ratify the Kyoto Protocol,
and thus bring about its entry into force. The UK, along with
our EU partners, had already made a commitment to ratify in time
to allow Kyoto to enter into force before the World Summit on
Sustainable Development in September 2002.
10. There is widespread agreement that the
introduction of the New Energy Trading Agreement (NETA) has had
a significant adverse effect on renewable generation and in particular
Combined Heat and Power. Please set out how you liaised with DTI
on this issue over the last two years in order to ensure a joined-up
approach which took account of environmental objectives.
A Special experts Group (SpEG) was set up in
early 2000 to look at the issues smaller generators would encounter
under NETA. DETR/DEFRA was represented on the Group as were other
government departments, industry and smaller generators. SpEG
put a working paper to Ofgem's Development and Implementation
Steering Group in the lead up to NETA going live in March 2001.
This working paper explored different consolidation (aggregation)
options and the implications, benefits and disbenefits of the
different options. In the course of normal discussion, my officials
raised the issue of the need for NETA t properly address the affect
on CHP and renewables generators to ensure that environmentally
preferable power generation was not undermined.
Since NETA was introduced, both my Ministers
and officials have worked closely with DTI to ensure that the
impact of NETA on CHP and renewables generators was properly understood
and to encourage the review of its impact which Ofgem undertook
this summer. The Minister for the Environment also made clear
to the Chief Executive of Ofgem his concern about the impact NETA
was having on such generators. Ofgem published the results of
its review in August, following which my officials have worked
closely with DTI to produce a Government response to the Ofgem
Review which addresses the environmental consequences of NETA.
This is currently under public consultation with responses required
by 1 December. A cross Government-industry working groupthe
Consolidator Development Grouphas been recently established
specifically to examine the barriers to consolidation of smaller
generators. My department is represented on this group.
27 November 2001