Busy period for environmental inquiries

Four Commons inquiries on environmental themes are to be held in early spring.

The Environmental Audit Committee will hold a short inquiry into the environmental programme to be included in the water industry's next five-year investment programme which starts in 2005. The inquiry is a response to reports that the Government is planning major cuts in environmental investments in order to contain increases in water bills.

An EAC sub-committee is to follow up its recent inquiry into environmental crime and the courts (see pp 42-43 ) with a second on local environmental crime, such as fly-tipping, noise and abandoned cars. The inquiry will examine the environmental and social impacts, the resources and powers available to combat the problem, and alternatives to dealing with it through the criminal justice system.

A third EAC inquiry will examine the extent to which environmental considerations were built into the military operations and reconstruction effort in Iraq.

Meanwhile, the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee is to examine progress towards achieving the Environment Department's public service agreement target for 95% of Sites of Special Scientific Interest to be in favourable condition by 2010.

In the Lords, the European Union Committee has just embarked on a wide-ranging inquiry into the EU's climate change policy. Issues it intends to examine include the progress of the EU and individual Member States towards meeting targets under the Kyoto Protocol; whether the EU's energy and climate policies are adequately integrated; preparations for the launch of the EU's emissions trading scheme in 2005; and the EU's role in shaping future international climate change negotiations.

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