On 19 December the government published its draft environment bill.
The draft bill contains further details on the government's ambitions for the environment, including long awaited details on the future environment watchdog. The 'Office for Environmental Protection' (OEP), as it has been named, will replace the work of the EU Commission and Court of Justice in enforcing environmental laws after Brexit.
Greener UK had outlined its hopes for the bill in a preview briefing (October 2018), which included: clarity on ambition; a new spatial framework to hasten the recovery of nature; the establishing of legally binding targets; and national and international co-operation on environmental issues.
Analysing the bill after publication, Greener UK's senior parliamentary affairs associate Ruth Chambers wrote a blog for Green Alliance's Inside Track.
Our snap view, provided by Amy Mount, was to welcome the government's ambition to put the environment at the heart of government, but also to state that without further action the environment would be weakened through Brexit, undermining the government's pledge to leave the environment in a better state:
“There is a real sense of ambition in this announcement, with ministers acknowledging the need to put the environment at the heart of government.
“Yet without further work environmental protection will be weaker. If the government decides its budget, and appoints its officials, how can the new watchdog challenge ministers effectively? And without establishing strong legally binding targets for things such as water quality, how can we properly hold the government to account on leaving our environment in a healthier state?
“If we get it right, this bill could provide the turning point to reversing environmental decline.”