The Consultation Season

It might be the festive season, but it is also the consultation season.

In recent weeks we have seen DEFRA and BEIS release a number of consultations in relation to key aspects of environmental law and policy.

Key DEFRA consultations include:

  1. A consultation on revisions to the EA charging scheme. The underlying message is that we are going to see the EA charging a lot more for its services, particularly those services that can be seen as being ‘commercial’. An example is in relation to the end of waste panel. The panel was closed down in 2016 as a result of funding cuts. The panel is scheduled to re-open in Spring 2018 and will charge an initial fee and then an hourly rate for its services.
  2. A consultation in relation to the EA’s enforcement and sanctions policy. Key aspects of the revised policy relate to more detailed guidance concerning the use and form of Enforcement Undertakings (a form of civil sanction) and the combination of the current enforcement and sanctions statement and separate guide into a single policy document. More detailed guidance in relation to Enforcement Undertakings is very welcome.
  3. The government have also promised a consultation early in the New Year in relation to a new environmental body that would oversee the implementation of and compliance with environmental law. The new body would have the role of filling the gap left by the European Commission post Brexit.

Earlier in the Autumn we also saw BEIS release a number of key policy documents and consultations to coincide with the publication of the long awaited clean growth strategy.

One of the most important aspects was the focus on a replacement reporting regime for the CRC scheme which is due to be withdrawn in 2019. BEIS is consulting on the introduction of a new energy and carbon reporting regime that will seek to bring together and simplify the existing system which has multiple overlapping regimes. We suspect there will be a phased approach to the introduction of a new regime/s in this area. Phase 1 will likely see the creation of a new scheme to replace CRC and to combine with ESOS. Phase 2 at some point in the future may look at combining the new system with the replacement regime for the EU ETS, which is likely to see some form of transition phase post Brexit.

2017 has been an eventful year in the environmental arena and 2018 is shaping up to be no different.

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