DEFRA’s consultation on Environmental Principles and Governance after the United Kingdom leaves the European Union raises critically important questions as to the future of environmental protection in the UK post Brexit.
The consultation comes in three parts and asks 14 questions: Part 1 (4 questions) looks to identify which environmental principles should be incorporated into our policy and legal framework and how this should be achieved; Part 2 (9 questions) considers the role of a new, independent statutory body designed (inter alia) to hold the Government to account; and Part 3 (1 question) concerns wider environmental governance.
All of this sits in the context of the Secretary of State’s announcement in November 2017 of the Government’s intention to create a new, comprehensive policy statement setting out the environmental principles which will guide environmental policy-making and legislation, the Government’s publication in January this year of its 25 Year Environmental Plan for England and its current intention to publish a draft Environmental Principles and Governance Bill in the autumn.
The consultation only relates to areas for which the UK government is responsible, but makes clear the Government’s willingness to consider designing the new system so that it applies more widely across the UK.
As can be seen, the consultation raises issues of huge importance, designed to inform the basis on which the Government delivers on its stated intention that the new mechanisms will not just maintain but will in fact strengthen our approach to environmental protection post-Brexit. It is the most important environmental consultation of our lifetimes. It is open now and runs until 2nd August.