Science and the environment by topic

Science and the environment includes the following topic areas. Please click the links to access all of our briefings by topic:

Agriculture and farming

  • Peatland burning: New regulations for blanket bog habitats

    In February 2021, the Government introduced new regulations banning the burning of certain types of vegetation on protected blanket bog peatland without a licence in England. On 18 March 2021, the House of Lords will debate a motion criticising the new regulations as not adequately protecting peatland or reducing UK carbon emissions. This article summarises what the regulations do and what the reaction to them has been since they were announced.

    Peatland burning: New regulations for blanket bog habitats
  • Agricultural tenancy reform

    In October 2017, the Tenancy Reform Industry Group highlighted potential barriers to productivity in the farming sector caused by agricultural tenancy laws and proposed ideas for reform. This article provides a summary of that report and action the Government has taken since.

    Agricultural tenancy reform
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Energy

  • Renewables obligation scheme: changes to energy supplier payments

    The renewables obligation scheme provides support for generators of renewable electricity. The costs of the scheme are met by energy suppliers. These costs are then passed on to consumers. When suppliers fail to meet their obligations under the scheme, the resultant shortfall is mutualised if it reaches a certain threshold and must be met by other suppliers. The Renewables Obligation (Amendment) Order 2021 would raise the shortfall threshold which triggers this mutualisation process.

    Renewables obligation scheme: changes to energy supplier payments
  • Does the UK need a hydrogen strategy?

    In recent months there has been a renewed focus on the future of hydrogen as a low carbon energy carrier for the UK. This had led to calls from a variety of individuals and organisations for the Government and the newly formed Hydrogen Advisory Council to publish a hydrogen strategy. This issue is due to be the subject of an oral question in the House of Lords on 17 September 2020.

    Does the UK need a hydrogen strategy?
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Environment

  • Renewables obligation scheme: changes to energy supplier payments

    The renewables obligation scheme provides support for generators of renewable electricity. The costs of the scheme are met by energy suppliers. These costs are then passed on to consumers. When suppliers fail to meet their obligations under the scheme, the resultant shortfall is mutualised if it reaches a certain threshold and must be met by other suppliers. The Renewables Obligation (Amendment) Order 2021 would raise the shortfall threshold which triggers this mutualisation process.

    Renewables obligation scheme: changes to energy supplier payments
  • Government investment programmes: the ‘green book’

    The Government’s ‘green book’ describes how major public sector investment projects are assessed. In March 2020, the Government announced a review of the approach, to improve how the green book supports strategic priorities such as its ‘levelling up’ agenda and the transition to net zero greenhouse gas emissions. The review’s conclusions were published in November 2020, followed by a revised green book in December 2020.

    Government investment programmes: the ‘green book’
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Science and technology

  • Facial recognition technology: police powers and the protection of privacy

    Facial recognition technology is used to identify individuals or to verify someone’s identity. Live facial recognition has been used by several police forces in England and Wales in collaboration with the private sector. There have been calls for increased scrutiny and oversight of the powers of the police to use the technology, including in the House of Lords. This article summarises the debates about the use of this technology.

    Facial recognition technology: police powers and the protection of privacy
  • Forensic Science Regulator Bill

    The Forensic Science Regulator Bill would put the existing forensic science regulator post on a statutory basis. The bill would also give the regulator powers to enforce a statutory code of practice for forensic science activities relating to the criminal justice system in England and Wales. The bill has completed its stages in the House of Commons and is due to have its second reading in the Lords on 19 March 2021.

    Forensic Science Regulator Bill
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