Consultation on the Draft Policy Statement on Environmental Principles

Closes 2 Jun 2021


The landmark Environment Bill is a once in a generation opportunity to put the wellbeing of our natural environment at the heart of government. Tackling the environmental challenges ahead requires sustained focus on delivering measurable improvements, a task which depends upon joined up thinking across every part of the policy-making process. In recognition of this need we are introducing new environmental principles that will help embed environmental considerations in the design, development and delivery of policy work.

The case for an effective, integrated approach to help meet our goals is already apparent. As we rebuild in response to the coronavirus pandemic, the Prime Minister has been clear that we must base our recovery on solid foundations, including a fairer, greener and more resilient global economy. This is essential to our ambition of leaving our environment in a better state than we found it and an example of working together to address shared priorities. In some areas the environmental connections are clear: for example, ambitious legislative measures to tackle pressing challenges on biodiversity, air quality, water and resource and waste efficiency. But we recognise that environmental impacts should be assessed even where they may seem less immediately relevant, which is why the principles will apply in all areas.

The Bill requires the preparation of a statutory policy statement on five internationally recognised environmental principles. The policy statement will integrate these five principles into policy-making across all government departments, contributing to the improvement of environmental protection and sustainable development. It will ensure that Ministers understand how to interpret and proportionately apply these principles in relation to a wide range of policy areas. This reflects this government’s intention to deliver the most ambitious environmental programme of any country on earth.

Policies can affect the environment in a variety of ways and to different degrees, whether directly or indirectly, and positively or negatively. It is vital that any potentially damaging impacts, or opportunities for environmental benefit, are considered and addressed in the early stages of policy development, where possible. The application of these principles, through this policy statement, aims to achieve that. 

We are publishing this draft policy statement on environmental principles for consultation in order to gather input from you on this important matter. We would value your time in providing your opinions, evidence and feedback so that we can finalise the policy statement taking account of all relevant information.

I thank you in advance for your contribution to this consultation.

George Eustice 

Secretary of State for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs 

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