Gove announces consultation on post- Brexit green protections

Plans to consult on a new, independent body to hold government to account on environmental standards in England after Brexit were set out by environment secretary Michael Gove this week.

The body will advise and challenge government and potentially other public bodies on environmental legislation, and step in if needed to enforce standards. A consultation on the specific powers and scope of the new body will be launched early next year.

Gove (pictured) said: “We will deliver a Green Brexit, where environmental standards are not only maintained but enhanced. Today we are setting out our plans to ensure the powerful are held to account. We will consult on creating an independent body – encouraging transparency and preventing careless or irresponsible behaviour damaging our natural environment. We will consult as widely as possible on these proposals to ensure we get this important decision right for future generations.”

The proposed consultation on the statutory body will also explore the scope and content of a new policy statement to ensure environmental principles underpin policy making. This is because current green decisions made in the UK are underpinned by European ‘environmental principles’, such as sustainable development and the polluter pays principle. DEFRA noted: “Although these principles are already central to government environmental policy, they are not set out in one place besides the EU treaties.”

A key question to be explored with the devolved administrations is whether Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland wish to take a different or similar approach.