The Green Alliance added its voice to that of the Environmental Audit Committee highlighting the ongoing delay to the release of Agriculture and Environment 25 year plans. We seem to be in the phoney war phase of Brexit, the calm before the storm, when nothing is appearing. These two documents are crucial to the Brexit programme simply because they will set the tone of much else that happens in Defra during this period. Andrea Leadsom has spelt out the Government’s principles for Brexit and agriculture in recent speeches and yet these have been criticised for lacking detail.

There seems to be a major contradiction at the heart of the Government’s approach, since if Leadsom’s approach to Brexit for agriculture is to only stick to broad principles to assist the negotiation there seems to be little point in 25 year plan with no detail.

Other Government policy ‘promised’ documents in jam are the clean growth plan (DBEIS) and a revamp of litter policy (Defra).  

Extraordinary workload     If you ask, you are told that Defra officials are very busy preparing for Brexit and there is no reason to suppose this is not true. Defra Minister George Eustice said recently that 80% of laws Defra deals with are EU laws and 45% of all EU laws fall within Defra’s remit. The sheer scale of the task, 1100 environmental laws, is mind boggling and an extraordinary workload for one of Government’s smallest departments. Yet if any of Defra’s thinking is to be shared and consulted upon that will also place a massive burden of scrutiny on Parliament and stakeholders. Perhaps the triggering of Brexit will prompt the release of these documents, and although we might be grateful for this period of relative calm, it would be better for all concerned if there was a clearer sense of Defra thinking on process so everyone could better plan their responses.

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