The Environmental Audit Committee publishes the Government's response to its report 'The Government’s 25 Year Plan for the Environment'.
There is no confirmation on whether the body will hold all public bodies to account, whether climate change will be in its remit or how it will exact enforcement. The Environmental Audit Committee will be closely monitoring the details in the proposed draft legislation and forthcoming policy statement.
The Government's response:
- Does not commit to replace the one third of EU environmental legislation (air, waste, water, chemicals) that cannot be copied and pasted into UK law through the EU (Withdrawal Act).
- Commits to produce annual progress reports on the 25 Year Plan and to report on changes in a comprehensive suite of environmental indicators and metrics that are currently under development.
- Agrees with the Committee’s recommendation to undertake an audit of the main existing environmental targets that contribute to the UN Sustainable Development Goals.
- Makes clear that no devolved administration has agreed to the proposal of a UK wide body to replace the role of the European Commission and European Environment Agency.
- Commits to bring forward draft clauses on the oversight and scrutiny functions of the body this Autumn.
- Suggests that it is preparing to make sure a new statutory body is in place “as soon as is practically achievable” in the event of a no deal exit.
Mary Creagh MP, Chair of the Environmental Audit Committee 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 one 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."