Government peers have today (Wednesday 16th May 2018) demanded that the government protect the UK’s environmental standards after Brexit, in yet another damaging defeat for the government over the EU Withdrawal Bill. Lords voted 294 to 244 to pass the amendment this afternoon, which seeks to protect existing enforcement powers for environmental rules. It demands that the government “must take steps designed to ensure that the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the EU does not result in the removal or diminution of any rights, powers, liabilities, obligations, restrictions, remedies and procedures that contribute to the protection and improvement of the environment”. It is the fifteenth defeat for the government on the bill. The change aims to ensure that post-Brexit, a new green watchdog will have the same powers as EU authorities currently enjoy to regulate environmental standards across the UK, including the ability to fine or initiate legal action against the government.
Bob Earll: To say that the Government’s consultation hasn’t gone down well with past environmental parliamentarians would be an understatement. A ‘toothless mutt’ with no legal powers to hold Government to account has prompted Peers to another amendment to the Withdrawal Bill. The environmental principles section is a bit …. thin. It seems like a deliberate attempt to ignore a host of commitments not least to many international conventions that we will still be signed up to after Brexit. Plenty of scope for comment!
Defra: ‘When we leave the EU, we will be able to build on the successes achieved through our membership, and address the failures, to become a world-leading protector of the natural world. We have also published the 25 Year Environment Plan, which sets out this Government’s ambition for this to be the first generation that leaves the environment in a better state than that in which we inherited it. These good intentions must be underpinned by a strengthened governance framework that supports our environmental protection measures and creates new mechanisms to incentivise environmental improvement. We have launched this consultation on the development of an Environmental Principles and Governance Bill. This new piece of legislation will mark the creation of a new, world-leading, statutory and independent environmental watchdog to hold government to account on our environmental ambitions and obligations once we have left the EU. This new body will work alongside a new policy statement setting out the environmental principles that will guide successful and sustainable policy-making, marking the beginning of a new era for our environment.’ Click here to download the consultation