Concerns Over Independence of Gove’s New Watchdog

IEMA responds to publication of the UK's draft Environment Bill, saying the new Office for Environmental Protection "does not meet independence tests".

Posted on Dec 19, 2018

Following publication of the UK's Government's draft Environment (Principles and Governance) Bill, IEMA's Chief Policy Advisor has responded to the ambition and scope of the clauses.

While IEMA welcomes the "promising" prospect of new objectives, targets, plans and the 25 Year Environment Plan being given statutory status, there are continued concerns about the independence of the Office for Environmental Protection - the proposed Green Watchdog.

"At first look there are some promising provisions in the Bill, but IEMA members will be concerned about the status of the new Office for Environmental Protection. It's a step in the right direction but right now it doesn’t meet our independence tests, as it will very clearly be resourced by and its appointments made by the Secretary of State. To us that sounds like the watchdog will be constrained from holding Government to account," said Martin Baxter this evening.

Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Michael Gove has described the draft Bill as "an unprecedented step forward" but Baxter says that there appears to be some “escape clauses” on environmental principles and argues the draft Bill still has far to go before it is satisfactory:

Lots more needs to be done to bring the draft Bill up to the level of ambition needed for a comprehensive environmental governance framework that will deliver the future we want. IEMA will be working closely with our members and Government over the next month to ensure ambition levels are raised to where they should be,” said Baxter.

Click here to access the full range of documents for the draft Environment (Principles and Governance) Bill.

Comments (1)

  1. Mathew Jackson:
    Jan 24, 2019 at 06:52 AM

    Having read numerous articles, the 'Bill' and attending the UKELA conference I agree on the principle and aspirations being in right direction. The independence OEP being singnificant however there are far wider implications regarding legality, enforcement and actual constitution. This encompassed with being relevant to England only presents further challenges.

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