Gove calls on UK's green sector to 'steal a march' on other countries

25th February 2019

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Sarah Brooks

Environment secretary Michael Gove today called on sustainability professionals to harness their competitive spirit so the UK remains a leader on environmental protections post-Brexit.

Speaking at an event organised by sustainability body IEMA, Gove said Britain has an opportunity to “steal a march on the rest of the world“ through improved standards after leaving the EU.

By enhancing agricultural and fishing practices while boosting innovation and investment in green technologies, the country can continue to set an example to others in the same way it did through the Climate Change Act, Gove added.

“Whether it is developing the vehicles of the future, or investing in battery storage here first, we can steal a march on the rest of the rest of the world,“ he said.

“Our technological breakthroughs and our intellectual property can create growth for us here while other countries catch up.

“And by growing food in a truly sustainable way and moving agriculture up the value chain, we ensure others look to us for the innovations that increase productivity and safeguard the environment.“

In a wide-ranging address to sustainability professionals at IEMA's 'Shaping the future: Setting the Environmental Objectives for the Environment Bill' event, Gove also highlighted the importance of performance metrics after leaving the EU.

This would underpin work on fisheries, agriculture, landscape management and environmental net gain, while Gove also said there should be “clear penalties“ for those that fail to meet the targets, and incentives to exceed them.

And he insisted that fears over a new post-Brexit watchdog not having 'teeth' would be listened to, and that the proposed Office for Environmental Protection would get the funding needed to ensure it is an effective regulator.

Meanwhile, IEMA's chief policy advisor, Martin Baxter, echoed calls for the UK to go above and beyond EU standards, saying it was an “illusion“ to think current environmental protections are good enough.

“In a country where 40,000 people die prematurely from poor air quality, and as biodiversity declines, I think recreating the status quo is something that is being challenged,“ he continued.

“We have had policy from the EU for the last 45 years, and as the UK prepares to exit, having a sense of how we are going to take forward environmental progress and frameworks to deliver outstanding outcomes is really important.“

Image credit: IEMA


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