Existing environmental protection must be maintained post-Brexit, MPs say

27th July 2016

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Patrick Forrest

In the wake of the referendum vote, the Environmental Audit Committee is putting pressure on the new government to maintain levels of environmental protection guaranteed by EU law.

Committee chair Mary Creagh has written to David Davis, secretary of state for exiting the EU, and new environment minister Therese Coffey to ask them to give evidence to a new inquiry on the future of the natural environment after the EU referendum.

The letter states: ‘There are few areas of government policy where the decision to leave the EU will have a more widespread impact than the environment.

‘Britain’s membership of the EU has been crucial to the improvement of UK air quality, the cleaning up of water pollution, the management of waste, and the protection of biodiversity. It has given us a platform on which we can show global leadership in tackling climate change.’

The committee specifically wants to know what the government’s plan is for the large proportion of UK environmental law that originated from the EU; its approach to ongoing negotiations around EU measures such as the circular economy package; and how it intends to maintain the benefits of transnational cooperation on environmental issues, including climate change.

The inquiry is taking written evidence on:

  • the implications of leaving the EU for UK biodiversity, including the Common Agricultural Policy;
  • how future support for UK agriculture should be structured in order to ensure incentives for environmentally-friendly land management;
  • how much divergence there could be on future environmental stewardship schemes between devolved nations; and
  • what the risks and opportunities of rewilding could be.

The deadline for submissions is 9 September.

The committee has also opened an inquiry on domestic implementation of the sustainable development goals. The inquiry follows similar scrutiny by the parliamentary International Development Committee, which questioned the government’s commitment to implementing the goals domestically.

MPs want to know which goals are most relevant to the UK; the costs and benefits of implementation; and how performance against the goals can best be measured and communicated to policymakers, local authorities, businesses and the public. The deadline for submissions is 16 September.


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