Ministry of Justice admits environmental failings

18 May 2018

The Environmental Audit Committee publishes the Government response to the Environmental Audit Committee’s report, The Ministry of Justice: Environmental Sustainability.

Chair's Comments

Mary Creagh, Chair of the Environmental Audit Committee, said:

“Our report highlighted significant shortcomings in the Ministry of Justice’s approach to sustainability. As a key ministry with the second largest footprint of any Government department, it should be leading from the front.

“We called on Ministers to set more ambitious targets and improve their approach to environmental issues relating to its estate, activities and contracts.

“I welcome the Government’s positive response to our report and that Ministers accepted many of our recommendations, and are acting on some of them.

“It remains frustrating, however, that reports such as ours are required to ensure sustainability remains at the front of departmental agendas.”

MoJ was failing to meet its own key environmental standards

The Committee’s report found that that the MoJ was failing to meet its own key environmental standards in many areas, including on carbon targets, BREEAM building Certification, ultra-low emissions vehicles, and contractor oversight. The Committee called on the MoJ to:

  • Set out stretching green targets for 2019-20
  • Systematically collect environmental rating certificates for all its refurbishment and new build projects
  • Improve its oversight of sustainability matters within the Ministry
  • Improve its oversight and governance arrangements of contractors’ performance
  • Show leadership to the rest of central government in terms of sustainability

Committee’s recommendations

The MoJ has accepted a significant number of the Committee’s recommendations. In its response to this report, the Ministry states that it:

  • Has adopted the new Government Buying Standard (GBS) for Vehicles, and now has 21 low emission vehicles in its fleet (which it hopes will extend to 51 over the next year.
  • Accepts the Committee’s assertion that its new buildings should have BREEAM certificates, and is seeking these certificates for the 126 projects where it does not have them (to be reported in Annual report and accounts).
  • Notes that it has already met its target to reduce emissions by 22% by 2020, and that it is proposing a new stretching target of a 38% reduction in the same timeframe.
  • Accepts the Committee’s view that there is little evidence that its contracts have sustainability embedded within them, and notes that it will be reviewing a large number of its legacy contracts in 2018-19.
  • Accepts the Committee’s conclusion that the department requires more oversight. It has set up a quarterly Senior Sustainability Board comprising senior officials to ensure that environmental sustainability is embedded in all areas of the MoJ.
  • Has accepted the EAC’s recommendation to publish its sustainability strategies, and has now done so for all but its water strategy, which it intends to do by December 2018.

Further information

Image: iStockphoto

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