Environmental Principles and Governance Bill needs to go beyond legislating to maintain the status quo

IEMA has welcomed the vote in Parliament today to retain vital EU legal protections through the EU Withdrawal Bill. The amendment ensures that key environmental principles will be established in primary legislation, and that the new independent environment body will have the power to hold government to account, and take legal action to ensure implementation of environmental protections.

Martin Baxter, IEMA’s Chief Policy Advisor, said: “We welcome Parliament’s decision to close the Brexit environmental governance gap. Underpinning protections and future environmental policy will be based on key principles including the precautionary principle, the polluter pays principle and sustainable development.”

IEMA set out its position in evidence to the Environmental Audit Committee inquiry into the Government’s Environmental Principles and Governance consultation, calling for environmental principles to be established in primary legislation; and for the new environmental body to be given powers to enforce environmental law and take government to court.

However, we need greater ambition if we are to reverse long-term environmental degradation and rebuild the UK’s natural asset base. Baxter said: “The ambition for an environmental governance framework must be set at a higher level than it is today. Legislating to maintain the status quo won’t provide the underpinning legal framework we need to achieve long-term environmental goals.”

The proposed Environmental Principles and Governance Bill needs to be broader in scope than simply replicating existing EU functions. It needs to provide the legal framework for delivering the long-term goals in the 25yr Environment Plan.

IEMA has repeatedly called on Government to enshrine the full environmental acquis in UK law and go beyond to legislate to ensure even higher levels of environmental protection. In its Core Principles for the Environment – Brexit and Beyond, which provides a framework for the UK’s transposition of the EU environmental acquis, IEMA stated the UK must take a “progressive approach to improvement”; and that underpinning environmental principles were needed to guide future environmental policy.

IEMA’s evidence to the Environmental Audit Committee inquiry into the Government’s Environmental Principles and Consultation is here

IEMA’s full briefing and position is available from here


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