News from Mannin Branch of the Celtic League:
An interesting and comprehensive reply from the Isle of Man Chief Minister (text set out below). I normally just publish the response to queries but in this instance I think a few observations are apposite.
Obviously I’m disappointed but not surprised that the idea of a self standing environment agency is ruled out. However I think the general tone of the response is conducive to debate and at a time the government is in focus over this via the formation of a ‘Green Coalition’ it strikes me that dialogue by that group with government would be positive. Certainly I will be suggesting to Manx Branch Secretary of the Celtic League and Environmental Office Allen Moore that I believe the National branch of the League should engage positively.
Additionally and slightly of topic the CM refers to:
“changing the operational culture of Government away from a silo mentality towards a one Government approach”.
This would seem to be at odds with the vision portrayed by Chris Robertshaw MHK in the last couple of days and does beg the question if Mr Robertshaw is out on a tangent or off beam!
The link to my original query to the Chief Minister on the Celtic League main site news pages is at the foot of this posting:
“Dear Mr Moffatt
Thank you for your email of 1st November regarding UNESCO Biosphere and the possible creation of a Department of the Environment.
As Chief Minister I am enormously proud of the award of UNESCO Biosphere Status. It is an international recognition of what the whole community has achieved over many years in keeping an appropriate balance between our beautiful Island home and human activity. Biosphere status is not just about protecting the environment but also about how, from an economic perspective, as a community we live in harmony with it. It is about promoting solutions reconciling the conservation of biodiversity with its sustainable use.
Our Biosphere is truly cross-cutting; not just in terms of the Government but, indeed, the whole community. With this in mind I have taken the lead role personally on Biosphere. It is not, however, just about Government. The third sector has been a substantial contributor to our success. As individual citizens we are all contributors to Biosphere – everything that we do in our daily lives has the potential to contribute in a small way (positively or, sadly, negatively) to our Biosphere.
Certainly the Department of Environment, Food and Agriculture is a key player in relation to Biosphere; but that role is by no means limited to environmental specialist areas. The Agriculture Directorate plays a key role in managing the inter-relationship between commercial farming and the environment. The Forestry, Amenity and Lands Directorate own and manage our forestry and uplands estates which are key contributors. Whilst there is a popular tendency to regard the Biosphere as purely land based it also incorporates the marine environment. The Fisheries Directorate has the key task of providing an appropriate balance between commercially sustainable fisheries and marine conservation. It will be seen therefore that the wider Department is contributing to the Biosphere agenda; as indeed are many other Departments and agencies.
During the current administration we have made significant progress on changing the operational culture of Government away from a silo mentality towards a one Government approach. This means that there is a more collegiate approach to resolving the challenges facing the Island; and in that culture the structure becomes less important; because the outcome is shared regardless of organisational position.
Whilst I note your suggestion that we should create a new Department of Environment to focus on our Biosphere I hope that you can now appreciate that in the current Department of Environment, Food and Agriculture already have a Department with a Biosphere focus which transcends the DEFA Directorates.
Hon Howard Quayle MHK
Assistant General Secretary