Government 'determined to bring environment to its knees'

The Chartered Institution of Water and Environmental Management (CIWEM) has accused the government of asset stripping the environment and seeming determined to bring environment to its knees.

CIWEM says that the government has made a series of ill-conceived policy choices and it singles out the decision to abolish the Environment Agency's statutory advisory committees, for particular criticism.

Without the committees, CIWEM says the Environment Agency will not be able to provide strategic advice to the various bodies, including local communities and NGOs, who will deliver environmental improvement locally under the governments Big Society plans.

Without this guidance, CIWEM believes that there will be no coherent approach to policy and the delivery of schemes such as the EU Water Framework Directive.

The Institution says that statutory committees are the only bodies able to hold the Environment Agency to account and question direction and strategies. It is calling for a review of the decision to abolish them.

CIWEM's director of policy, Justin Taberham, said: "One of the main routes to disaster for the environmental sector is the abolition of the Environment Agency's statutory advisory committees, which have been treated like a sacrificial lamb by the Government just to save small sums of money.

"The Regional Fisheries, Ecology and Recreation Committees (RFERACs) and the Regional Environmental Protection Advisory Committees (REPACs) were axed, but not the Regional Flood Defence Committees - not a surprise as the flooding and landowner sectors undoubtedly were able to summon more political clout than the environmentalists.

"The Government must acknowledge that, like their decision to sell of our forests, they have got this wrong and should make a rapid U-turn on this policy." Alison Brown



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