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Ministry of Justice failing to meet key environmental standards

2 February 2018

The Environmental Audit Committee publishes its report on the Ministry of Justice's environmental sustainability.

The Ministry has the second largest estate of any Government department and has stated that it wants to ‘embed sustainability in everything it does'. Despite this, the report notes that the Ministry has failed to meet its own environmental targets in a number of key areas; carbon targets, BREEAM building Certification, ultra-low emissions vehicles, and contractor oversight, now more important than ever after the Carillion collapse.

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

“As the Government launches its 25 year environment plan, this key Ministry should lead from the front by reducing its environmental footprint.

“The Ministry is failing to meet many of its own unambitious targets. It should ensure that it delivers on its current environmental commitments and set new, ambitious targets as soon as possible.

“The Government should also review the oversight and governance arrangements of contractors' performance. This is all the more important following the collapse of Carillion, who managed approximately 50 prison service sites.”

The Committee found that:

  • Ultra-low emissions vehicles make up less than 1% of its fleet.
  • 64% of its refurbishment and new build projects have no final BREEAM (Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method) certification.
  • Only two of the Ministry's ten ‘Sites of Scientific Interest' are in a favourable condition.
  • Its Single Departmental Plan makes no mention of the UN Sustainable Development Goals.
  • The Ministry has not systematically undertaken environmental impact assessments for new policies and its sustainability strategies are mainly internal.
  • The Ministry had already exceeded its carbon emission reduction target for 2019-20 in 2016-17.

The Committee calls on the Ministry of Justice to:

  • Set out stretching green targets for 2019-20 which develop its sustainability policies.
  • Systematically collect environmental rating certificates for all its refurbishment and new built 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.

Further information

Image: iStockphoto