Environmental protection

This page highlights some of the current parliamentary material available on environmental protection. This includes select committee reports, briefing papers on current legislation and other subjects produced by the parliamentary research services, and the latest Early Day Motions put down by MPs.

Commons Briefing Papers

05.11.2015Shale gas and fracking
The regulatory regime for fracking in the UK is covered in this note along with comment on environmental concerns. It also covers the new access provisions and debate on fracking in during the Infrastructure Bill's passage through Parliament.
03.11.2015Green Investment Bank
The Green Investment Bank was set up by the Government to stimulate investment in green technologie. This note includes details of its role and the Governments intention to privatise it.
15.09.2015The problem of fly-tipping - the illegal dumping of waste
This Commons Library briefing paper gives a general overview of the extent of the problem of fly-tipping and the powers and responsibilities of the Environment Agency, local authorities and landowners to deal with it. In 2013/14 there was a significant increase in reported cases of fly-tipping across England.
31.07.2015Water Framework Directive: achieving good status of water bodies
This Commons Library Briefing Paper examines the requirements of the Water Framework Directive, including the requirement that the UK achieves 'good' status of all water bodies by 2015. It sets out some facts and figures for England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, explains how water quality is measured and discusses what happens if the requirements are not met. The actions being taken by the Government to manage and improve water quality are also explained and a brief explanation of the offence of water pollution is included.
24.07.2015The 5p Plastic Bag Charge
This Commons Library briefing paper provides information on the single use carrier bag charge in each part of the UK, examines the legal basis for the charge, the exemptions and what will be done with the proceeds of the charge. Impacts of the charge on carrier bag use and criticisms of the charge are also covered.
17.07.2015Marine Conservation Zones in England
Marine Conservation Zones are being introduced to protect nationally important marine environments. 127 sites were put forward by regional stakeholder groups, and the Government designated 27 sites in 2013. The Government consulted on a second tranche of MCZs early in 2015. It is expected that the Government will announce a third tranche of candidate MCZ sites in 2016.
30.06.2015Green Belt
Government's policy on the green belt protection is set out in the National Planning Policy Framework and associated guidance. This note sets out further information on thes size of the green belt, the number of new homes constructed on it and on possible future policy changes.
29.06.2015UK and European sea bass conservation measures
Seabass - an important fish species for commercial fishermen and recreational anglers. This note addresses issues around seabass Minnimum Landing Size, stock management and current Government policy.
09.06.2015EU exit: impact in key UK policy areas
If the UK left the EU, would UK citizens benefit? This would depend on how the Government filled any policy gaps left by withdrawal. In some areas, the environment, for example, where the UK is bound by other international agreements, much of the content of EU law would probably remain. In others, the government might decide to retain the substance of EU law, or to remove EU obligations from UK statutes. Much would also depend on whether the UK sought to remain in the European Economic Area and therefore continue to have access to the single market, or preferred to go it alone and negotiate bilateral agreements with the EU. This paper looks at the current situation in a range of policy areas and considers how it might change be if the UK left the EU.
10.03.2015Sources of Statistics
This briefing paper brings together sources of statistics on 27 subject areas covered by the Economic Policy & Statistics and Social & General Statistics sections of the House of Commons Library. In doing so it draws upon the knowledge of Library specialists, aiming to provide comprehensive topic-by-topic guides for use by anyone interested in the statistical series that underpin the United Kingdom.

Lords Library Notes

13.06.2014Infrastructure Bill [HL] (HL Bill 2 of 2014-15)
The Infrastructure Bill makes provision for the Government's proposals to fund, plan, manage and maintain the UK's national infrastructure.
28.01.2013Antarctic Bill (HL Bill 76 of 2012-13)
The Antarctic Bill would implement Annex VI (the 'Liability Annex') to the Antarctic Treaty's Environmental Protocol and sets out measures to reduce risks of environmental emergencies in Antarctica. It would also make a number of changes to the Antarctic Act 1994 to give additional protection to the Antarctic environment. This Library Note provides background information in advance of the Bill's second reading in the House of Lords on 1 February 2013.
08.01.2010Debate on 14th January: The Copenhagen Conference on Climate Change. LLN 2010/001
Debate on 14th January: The Copenhagen Conference on Climate Change. This Library Note aims to provide background reading for the debate to be held on Thursday 14th January: 'To call attention to the outcome of the Copenhagen Conference on Climate Change' The UN Conference on Climate Change took place in Copenhagen from 7th-19th December 2009. This Note explains the significance of the Conference in the context of previous international agreements on climate change, sets out the major disagreements that marred the negotiating process in Copenhagen and summarises the key elements contained in the final Copenhagen Accord. It considers analysis of the Accord's achievements and shortcomings, and summarises the reactions of key nations and interest groups.


24.08.2015Securing UK Soil Health
2015 is the United Nations International Year of Soils. Soils underpin the global food system and regulate water, carbon and nitrogen cycles but are subject to pressures from population growth and climate change. In England & Wales, soil degradation costs around 1bn per year. This POSTnote outlines the evidence for measures that sustain soils and existing policies affecting soil health.
26.03.2015Biodiversity Auditing
Biodiversity supports the ecosystem services humans rely on for well-being and economic resources. Areas that have had an audit can make more effective use of ecological data to meet planning and conservation objectives for biodiversity. This POSTnote summarises the data sources used and the advantages of the audit approach for addressing biodiversity loss.
30.10.2014GM Crops and Regulation
This note summarises the evidence on environmental and health impacts of GM crops, describes recent technological developments and examines their likely consequences for proposed reforms of GM regulation
08.10.2014Short Lived Climate Pollutants
Short lived Climate Pollutants (SLCPs) include black carbon, methane, hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) and ground level ozone. Although they have a shorter residence time in the atmosphere than CO2, from a few days to a few decades, they contribute to near term climate change. This POSTnote summarises options for mitigating SLCP concentrations and the benefits and challenges of doing so.
15.08.2014Reducing Emissions from Deforestation
The UNFCCC REDD+ scheme aims to promote sustainable forest management in developing countries in order to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. Developed countries are expected to provide finance of approximately $20bn per year from 2020. This POSTnote summarises the extent to which REDD+ could contribute to meeting international climate targets, challenges to its implementation and technologies for tracking its performance
12.08.2014Environmental Citizen Science
Environmental citizen science traditionally involves members of the public submitting sightings of wildlife to NGOs or records centres, but emerging technologies have recently broadened its use to all kinds of environmental data. This POSTnote summarises different types of citizen science projects, policy-relevant applications and the benefits and challenges of volunteer collected data.

Select Committee Reports

14.09.2011The impact of UK overseas aid on environmental protection and climate change adaptation and mitigation....
Government response. Environmental Audit Select Committee; Department for International Development report [Commons]
13.07.2011Green Investment Bank.
Government response. Environmental Audit Select Committee; Treasury report [Commons]
13.07.2011Joint Nature Conservation Committee and JNCC Support Co.
Joint Nature Conservation Committee report [Commons]
22.06.2011The impact of UK overseas aid on environmental protection and climate change adaptation and mitigation....
Environmental Audit Select Committee report [Commons]
18.05.2011Embedding sustainable development: the Government's response.
Government response. Environmental Audit Select Committee report [Commons]

Early Day Motions

That this House recognises the importance of children having regular contact with the natural environment; congratulates the RSPB for its Every Child Outdoors research, which highlights ...
That this House acknowledges that advanced biofuel technologies could play a vital role in reducing carbon emissions, providing energy security for the UK, managing waste and creating ...
That this House welcomes the recent announcements from the Government regarding biofuels, but continues to have concerns over the negative impacts of current biofuels on people, food ...
That this House is dismayed that, despite the statement on page 17 of the Coalition Agreement that `We will introduce measures to make the import or possession of illegal timber a criminal ...
That this House congratulates Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall and Channel 4 for highlighting the wasteful discarding of marketable fish at sea; commends the Scottish fishing industry for ...


  • Commons Briefing Papers (CBP) Papers providing in-depth and impartial analysis on every major piece of primary legislation and on other topics of public and parliamentary concern. Regular statistics papers are also published.
  • Early Day Motions (EDMs) - formal motions submitted by MPs in the House of Commons
  • POSTnotes (POST PN) - proactive four-page policy briefings from the Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology based on reviews of the research literature, interviews with stakeholders and peer review, commissioned by the POST Board
  • Lords Library Notes (LLN) - authored publications by the research section of the House of Lords Library that provide analysis of Bills, subjects for debate in the House and other issues of interest to Members.
  • Select Committee Reports - papers produced by all select committees of both Houses