Legal Teeth Required: IEMA Welcomes Proposals for New Environmental Watchdog

IEMA comments on the “long awaited” launch of the UK Government’s Environmental Principles and Governance Bill Consultation

Posted on May 10, 2018

The UK Government has today launched a crucial consultation on a new environmental body to underpin England’s environmental laws after the UK exits the EU. In response, IEMA has welcomed the proposals set out in the “long-awaited” consultation. However, they say they will closely scrutinise the documents to ensure that the environmental body and environmental principles will have sufficient “legal teeth” to protect the environment post-Brexit.

Proposals set out in the consultation outline how the Government intends to give legal weight to all important environmental principles which are currently enshrined in EU law.

IEMA’s Chief Policy Advisor Martin Baxter commented on the launch of the consultation this afternoon, saying: “It’s great to finally see some concrete proposals on how the environmental ’Governance Gap’ will be filled once the UK exits the EU. It’s clear that the Government recognises the importance of maintaining high environmental standards, and has acted to try to address this issue. We particularly welcome the proposals for a new environmental body with powers to scrutinise and advise on the implementation of environmental law and policy. We’ll make a strong case for this body to have real teeth, and the legal underpinning to hold government to account”.

Baxter had detail to offer in his comment, saying: “We are also pleased to see a commitment to retain in some form the key principles that underpin environmental law, such as the Polluter Pays Principle. IEMA has long argued for the retention and strengthening of the key principles we outlined last Summer.”

“Nevertheless, the proposals do not fill all of the gaps that will be left once the UK withdraws from the EU institutions that currently oversee environmental protection. The Government is seeking views on what further enforcement mechanisms may be necessary. IEMA will respond with advice on how the proposals could be strengthened, and where additional powers will need to be put in place to hold the Government to account.”

“IEMA and our members will scrutinise the proposals for Ministers to decide how they intend to apply the core environmental principles. We will examine whether or not this offers enough certainty for the environment and for businesses to plan for and achieve sustainable development outcomes. While the proposals only relate to England and to reserved matters throughout the UK, we hope that there will be a genuine opportunity for the four UK countries to co-design proposals that will work across the whole of the UK to protect shared environmental resources,” said Baxter.

Click here to read the consultation document.


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