Although parliament has yet to resolve Brexit and there are MP’s like myself who would like to see a People’s Vote with the option to remain, I agree there is considerable uncertainty about the implications for our environment if we leave the EU and I am concerned that many environmental protections could be at risk as a result of Brexit.
In July, the Environmental Audit Committee (EAC) published a report (available here) citing its concerns about the UK’s 25-year Environment Plan (available here), and called on Michael Gove to do more. More recently, Mary Creagh MP, chair of the EAC, has said that it is “deeply worrying” that DEFRA’s post-Brexit environment plans fail to replace around one-third of EU laws. The Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs must ensure our environmental protections are not weakened if the UK leaves the EU and set out how it will protect the provisions of important EU environmental directives.
DEFRA are also going to establish an environmental watchdog through the Environmental Principles and Governance Bill, but based on the proposals in the Bills consultation, it will lack the powers to hold the Government to account. There needs to be a powerful body to ensure laws are enforced should the European Commission and European Environment Agency no longer have the power to intervene. The Environmental Principles and Governance Bill’s consultation finished on the 5th of November and I can assure you that I will follow the progress of this closely.
As you know I have consistently voted to maintain high standards and protections in Brexit legislation and I will continue to do so.