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Post Brexit environment plans slammed as ‘wooly’

Katie Coyne08/11/2018 - 13:03

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Third of EU rules protecting environment could be lost
Third of EU rules protecting environment could be lost

A third of EU environmental legislation that cannot be brought into UK law through the EU (Withdrawal) Act may be lost post-Brexit, the Environmental Audit Committee has warned.

The EAC raised this concern in response to publication of the government’s 25-year plan for the environment.

Despite publication of the 25-year plan the role and clout of the ‘green-watchdog’ is also still unclear. The committee, and green groups, has consistently argued that such a body would need to have ‘teeth’ and be accountable to parliament and be able to hold all public bodies to account.

While the government has now agreed to try and have the watchdog in place ‘as soon as it practically achievable’ in the event of a no-deal Brexit, there is still no agreement over the strength and extent of its powers.

EAC chair Mary Creagh MP said: ‘The government’s woolly response makes no firm commitments on the future governance of the environment after Brexit, which is of great concern, given that the Agriculture Bill is making its way through Parliament.

‘If we want a world-leading environment, we need a strong, independent environmental watchdog which Ministers cannot quietly put to sleep. The Government’s draft Bill must make the new watchdog accountable to Parliament.

‘It is deeply worrying that the response does not commit to replace the a third of EU environmental legislation that cannot be copied and pasted into UK law after Brexit. It should set five-yearly wildlife budgets, so people can see taxpayers’ money being spent on public goods like flood prevention, protecting species from extinction and restoring our soils.’

The Local Government Association warned that environmental change should be led by communities, from the bottom-up, and not Whitehall.

LGA environment spokesman, Martin Tett, said: ‘The plans to make our environment cleaner and safer for all should be rooted in our communities, not in Whitehall.’

‘The new body that the government has proposed to oversee the environment plan should focus on making sure that national measures, designed to protect the environment, are kept in place. It’s essential that local government has a seat at the table of any newly-created environment body. We look forward to seeing more detail in the government’s forthcoming resources and waste strategy.’

The EAC has welcomed news that the government will produce annual progress reports on its 25-year plan and that a set of metrics and indices to measure this are being developed. The government has also committed to audit the main existing environmental targets that contribute to the UN Sustainable Development Goals.


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