Gove to consult on new environmental protection body for UK

UK Environment Minister Michael Gove has revealed plans to consult on a new, independent body to hold the government to account over upholding environmental protections following the UK’s departure from the EU.

Since his appointment as Environment Minister in June, Gove has often stated that he wants the UK to deliver a ‘Green Brexit’, putting the environment at the heart of policy-making, while maintaining and enhancing the country’s natural assets, landscapes and wildlife.

The future of protections currently upheld by the likes of the European Court of Justice has been one of the litany of worries regarding the environmental impact of Brexit, with several commentators suggesting that losing these agencies could lead to ‘zombie legislation’ that is not enforced and eventually erodes with no oversight.

In his announcement yesterday (12 November), Gove revealed that as part of the strategy for achieving a ‘Green Brexit’, ministers will now consult with businesses, NGOs, the farming sector and civil society on a new environmental body to hold government and public bodies to account and advise and challenge these bodies when environmental standards are not being upheld, with the consultation set to launch in early 2018.

In unveiling his plans, Gove said: “We will deliver a Green Brexit, where environmental standards are not only maintained but enhanced. Today we are setting out our plans to ensure the powerful are held to account. We will consult on creating an independent body – encouraging transparency and preventing careless or irresponsible behaviour damaging our natural environment. We will consult as widely as possible on these proposals to ensure we get this important decision right for future generations.”

An independent body would take on the governance mantles currently shouldered by the European Commission, which monitors targets, scrutinises legislation and takes action against illegal behaviour.