Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee

Session 2006-07

12 July 2007

Implementation of the Environmental Liability Directive: Report published

In its Report into the implementation of the Environmental Liability Directive (ELD) the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Select Committee criticises the Government's â‚Ëœminimum implementation' approach.‚ ‚ The MPs say that the Government's anxiety to avoid accusations of â‚Ëœgold plating' means that it is unwilling to go beyond the minimum requirements of the Directive even where its own analysis suggests there would be an overall public benefit from doing so.

The Committee believes that the Government's approach risks creating an unnecessarily complex framework which will provide opportunities for legal dispute but which‚ will mean that the country misses out on some of the potential benefits of the Directive.‚ ‚ The Committee says that the Government must show that it its decisions are reasonable, proportionate and evidence-based.‚ MPs express their surprise that Defra has not been more robust in its defence of the environment.

The Committee says that the clearest example where the minimum implementation approach is unsatisfactory is the Government's unwillingness to extend the ELD to nationally-protected wildlife and habitats as well as to EU-protected ones.‚ The MPs recommend that the Government uses the discretion it has under the Directive to include nationally-protected biodiversity within the scope of the ELD.‚ This would mean, for example, that all Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs) would be covered by the provisions of the Directive.‚

Commenting on the Committee's Report Chairman of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee the Rt Hon Michael Jack MP said:

‚ ₓThis Directive provides Europe with a chance to harmonise a uniform and high level of Environmental protection across the Community. Given the Government's commitment to environmental protection I hope that once they have read our Report they will decide to apply this important measure to all of England's key areas of important biodiversityâ‚?.‚ ‚

â‚" ENDS â‚"


1. For media inquiries, or to arrange bids for interviews with the Chairman, Rt Hon Michael Jack MP, and other Members of the EFRA Committee, please call Laura Kibby on 07917 488 557.

2. For information about the Committee's inquiry, please call Chris Stanton on 020 7219 3263. The full report, and the written and oral evidence taken in the inquiry, will be available on the Committee's website soon after 00.01 am on 12 July 2007. Website: www.parliament.uk/efracom

3. To view the uncorrected transcripts of evidence taken in this inquiry please see the Committee's â‚ËœEnvironmental Liability Directive' inquiry page at: http://www.parliament.uk/parliamentary_committees/environment__food_and_rural_affairs/efra_environmental_liability_directive.cfm

4. The purpose of the Environmental Liability Directive is to make those whose activities seriously damage, or threaten seriously to damage, the environment liable for‚ preventing or remedying the damage.‚ It gives European Union Member State governments a wide degree of discretion in implementation.‚ It was adopted in 2004, and the method of implementation was recently the subject of consultation by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. Information about the consultation can be found at: http://www.defra.gov.uk/environment/liability/index.htm