Policy Statements and Initiatives

Defra: Defra will conduct an in-depth analysis of how well the EU Habitats & Birds Directives are being applied in England, working with stakeholders and other Government departments.  It was one of a number of measures unveiled in last week’s Autumn Statement by the Chancellor.
The analysis will focus on the obligations in the legislation which affect the authorisation process for proposed development, with a view to reducing the burdens on businesses while maintaining (& where possible enhancing) environmental benefits.  The review will report by March 2012.
Press release & links
WAG: Education Minister Leighton Andrews has revealed proposals for the future shape of Higher Education in Wales, calling for institutions to be strong, sustainable & successful.
Press release
WAG: Wales is to benefit from one single environment body that ‘will ensure the most sustainable and effective management of its natural resources’. Environment Minister, John Griffiths, has agreed to the Environment Agency Wales (EAW), the Countryside Council for Wales (CCW) and Forestry Commission Wales (FCW) being brought together into one organisation.
Following the Minister’s decision, a consultation on the role & functions of the new body will begin in January 2012.  A programme team staffed mainly by people from the 3 bodies will also be established to undertake the necessary preparatory work to ensure that the new body can function properly from 1 April 2013.
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Press release & links
CLG: Secretary of State for Communities & Local Government, Eric Pickles, has responded on behalf of Her Majesty's Government to the interim report from the Independent Riots Victims and Communities Panel.
Press release & links ~ Interim report
DWPThe Government has confirmed that automatic enrolment will begin on time in Autumn 2012 and all employers will remain in scope. Small businesses will be given additional time to prepare for the implementation.
Press release & links ~ TUC comment
DCMSTeaching needs reform to better reflect the changing role of technology and to engage the computer scientists of the future, the Government says in its response to an independent review of skills (“Next Gen”) for the UK’s video games and visual effects (VFX) sectors.
Press release & links
DWP: The Government has announced plans to begin a major cut back of health & safety red tape as early as January 2012, in response to the publication of “Reclaiming health and safety for all: An independent review of health and safety legislation”.
It will also establish from 1 January 2011 a new challenge panel which will allow businesses to get the decisions of health & safety inspectors overturned immediately if they have got it wrong. a which will allow businesses to get the decisions of health & safety inspectors overturned immediately if they have got it wrong.
Press release & links ~ TUC comment
MoDThe Department for Transport has started the procurement process for a new UK-wide Search & Rescue helicopter service to be provided by civilian crews.
Press release & links ~ RUSI: Blue light Air Assets: Cost-effective Operations for the future
WAG: A new TB passport sticker scheme has been introduced in Wales by the TB Regional Eradication Delivery Boards, which enables the farmer/buyer to identify when an animal last had a clear TB test.
Press release & links
DECC: Energy Minister Charles Hendry recently urged business, green groups and members of the public to help identify ineffective, burdensome or unnecessary regulation as part of the Government’s Red Tape Challenge.
Press release & links
DWPAlmost £1bn will be spent over the next 3 years to provide unemployed young people with extra help as part of a newYouth Contract’, Deputy PM Nick Clegg & Employment Minister Chris Grayling have announced.
Press release & links
BISKey reforms to Further Education will see businesses helping to develop the courses that best meet their needs for growth, increased education exports and promotion of excellence in teaching as announced by Skills Minister John Hayes.
Measures outlined in New Challenges, New Chances will give employers the power to support the design & delivery of new courses, helping create greater confidence in qualifications and equip learners with the skills they need. 

The Skills Minister also confirmed £3.8bn investment in the sector in 2012-13 and indicative funding for the following year at a stakeholder launch event for New Challenges, New Chances.
Press release & links ~ New Challenges, New Chances: Next Steps in Implementing the Further Education Reform Programme
BIS: Business Secretary Vince Cable has announced details of how Government funding will support thousands of apprenticeships up to degree equivalent, enabling employers, colleges & universities to deliver the advanced skills most critical for growth.
£18.7m from the Higher Apprenticeship Fund will support the development of 19,000 new Higher Apprenticeships in sectors including construction, advanced engineering, insurance and financial services.
Press release ~ Higher Apprenticeship Fund ~ Apprenticeships
DECC: The task of rebalancing the UK economy away from carbon is well-progressed and is set to result in greater energy security and the development of new innovative technologies, the Government's Carbon Plan stated last week. 
The Carbon Plan also considers the cost of meeting the UK’s 80% target by 2050.  A revised online 2050 Calculator allows users to compare the cost of their chosen future energy system compared to doing nothing, or to other low carbon pathways.
Press release & links
WAG: Environment & Sustainable Development Minister, John Griffiths, has outlined his plans for a Sustainable Development Bill to 100 representatives from Wales’ public, private & the third sectors. The Welsh Government plans to formally consult on the purpose & extent of a Sustainable Development Bill during 2012 and introduce the Bill to the National Assembly the following year.
Press release & links
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