Defra proposes new watchdog to protect environment post-Brexit

It is consulting on its proposals under the new Environmental Principles and Governance Bill to ensure a “green” Brexit

By Priyanka Shrestha

The Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra) is proposing to establish a “world-leading body” to hold government to account for environmental outcomes after the UK leaves the EU.

It has launched a consultation on its proposals under the new Environmental Principles and Governance Bill to ensure a “green” Brexit.

The watchdog will provide scrutiny and advice to protect and enhance the UK’s landscapes, wildlife and natural assets and respond to complaints about the government’s delivery on environmental law.

The government is also consulting on its intention to require ministers to produce a statutory and comprehensive policy statement setting out how they will apply core environmental principles as they develop policy and discharge their responsibilities.

Currently, environmental decisions made in the UK, which includes improve water and air quality and protecting endangered species, are overseen by the European Commission and underpinned by a number of principles, such as the ‘polluter pays’ principle.

While they are already central to government environmental policy, they are not set out besides the EU treaties.

Environment Secretary Michael Gove said: “As the prime minister made it clear, we will not weaken environmental protections when we leave the EU. A new Environmental Principles and Governance Bill will ensure core environmental principles remain central to government policy and decision-making. This will help us to deliver a Green Brexit and the vision set out in our 25-Year Environment Plan.”

The consultation will run until 2nd August 2018.