Attendees and apologies
- Lorna Slater MSP, Minister for Green Skills, Circular Economy, and Biodiversity
- Mairi Gougeon MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs, Land Reform, and the Islands, both from the Scottish Government
- Thèrése Coffey MP, Secretary of State at DEFRA
- Alister Jack MP, Secretary of State for Scotland
- Rebecca Pow MP, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at DEFRA
- James Davies MP, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Wales, all from the UK Government
- Lesley Griffiths MS, Minister for Rural Affairs, North Wales and Trefnydd
- Julie James MS, Minister for Climate Change, both from the Welsh Government
- Katrina Godfrey, Permanent Secretary at the Department for Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs, attended on behalf of the Northern Ireland Civil Service
Items and actions
The Inter-Ministerial Group for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (IMG EFRA) met on Monday 22 May 2023 by video conference.
The meeting was chaired by Lorna Slater MSP, Minister for Green Skills, Circular Economy, and Biodiversity
In the absence of Northern Ireland ministers, Katrina Godfrey, Permanent Secretary at the Department for Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs, attended on behalf of the Northern Ireland Civil Service.
The meeting opened with a discussion on biodiversity and how the administrations were going to collectively implement the Global Biodiversity Framework to achieve the COP15 outcomes. Ministers agreed that the JNCC should facilitate and coordinate a cross-UK response ahead of COP16.
The group then discussed Scotland’s Deposit Return Scheme. Scottish Ministers impressed upon DEFRA the continuing urgency in securing a UK Government decision on an exclusion for DRS from the Internal Market Act and their disappointment at the time this is taking. Scottish Ministers reiterated they had followed the agreed common framework process and disagreed with suggestions that they had only sought an exclusion in March. UK Government Ministers confirmed that cross-Whitehall discussions were on-going and they could not prejudge their outcome. Finally, devolved ministers stated their dissatisfaction that the common framework process was being ignored.
The next item discussed was DEFRA’s plans to ban the sale of wet wipes containing plastic where the DEFRA Secretary of State outlined her intention to introduce a ban in England only. However, she hoped devolved governments would be able to join DEFRA in a UK-wide-consultation. Devolved Ministers welcomed the policy direction, sought a short delay to enable them to align with the proposals, and highlighted the importance of following the common framework process.
The group then received an update from DEFRA on the UK Government’s Retained EU (Revocation and Reform) Bill following recent developments. Devolved Ministers pressed for clarity on the level of reform to be undertaken, dispute mechanisms, managing divergence and retaining interpretive effects to preserve existing environmental protections.
The last substantive item saw the Scottish Government outline its vision and ambition for the Blue Economy, which was welcomed by the other administrations.
Lastly, the group briefly discussed the importance of food security following the Prime Minister’s recent open letter to UK farmers.
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