EU Withdrawal Bill inadequate for ‘Green Brexit’

Leading environmental groups have urged for meaningful Parliamentary scrutiny of environmental policies and laws following the landmark European Union (Withdrawal) Bill.

Environment Secretary Michael Gove has insisted that the UK will strive for a ‘Green Brexit’, echoing the Conservative election ambition to be ‘the first generation to leave the environment in a better state than it inherited’.

However, a host of environmental groups, including the Chartered Institution of Water and Environmental Management and the Institution of Environmental Sciences, have written to Gove and Brexit Secretary David Davis to say that the Bill ‘gravely threatens’ green plans.

The institutes have warned that the Bill fails to adequately provide for parliamentary scrutiny of the raft of changes required to make environmental laws function, ensure the fundamental principles which underpin decades of environmental improvement are protected, or provide a meaningful framework for independent scrutiny of future government performance on the environment.

They have also called for the legal establishment of a new body that would allow organisations to take governments to court over failing to meet legal obligations such as on air quality, similar to the current process provided by the European Commission.

Will Pope, chair of the Environmental Policy Forum, said: “The government has welcome ambitions for the environment, with a new 25 year plan imminent and a commitment to improve environmental quality for future generations. Yet plans without appropriate tools and measures for delivery and scrutiny will be doomed to failure. Brexit offers certain opportunities to manage our environment in a more effective manner, more bespoke to UK needs. Yet it also presents real risks that measures which have achieved cleaner rivers, seas, towns and cities could be eroded. We are calling for appropriate checks and balances to be established from the outset, to ensure we do not risk becoming the ‘dirty man of Europe’ again.”

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