I agree that leaving the EU must not lead to any watering down of existing standards on the environment. In fact, I believe there is an opportunity for more progressive and ambitious domestic policies which go beyond EU standards.
The Government has now introduced the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill – which will convert EU law into UK law – and has made assurances that this Bill will mean “the whole body of existing EU environmental law continues to have effect in UK law”.
While I welcome this commitment, I am concerned that the Repeal Bill, as currently drafted, proposes sweeping delegated powers but lacks effective oversight or accountability. I am also concerned that it lacks clear enforcement mechanisms and will not go far enough to ensure UK environmental standards keep pace with the EU after we leave.
I believe we must ensure that all EU-derived laws that are of benefit to our environment are fully protected after Brexit, without qualifications, limitations or sunset clauses. I can assure you that I will press for this to be the case, and for EU environmental protections to be transposed into British law and strengthened where necessary.
You also raise the problem of future agricultural policy. The Government has outlined proposals for a new Agriculture Bill which is intended to provide stability to farmers as we leave the EU and to protect our natural environment for future generations. In addition, the Government has pledged to deliver “a Green Brexit”.
It is imperative that these warm words are followed by robust action. However, I am concerned that the long-awaited 25 Year Environment Plan remains outstanding, and believe this shows that the Government’s record on combating climate change and environmental damage is one of inaction.
I can assure you that I will hold the Government to account on its promises of a green Brexit. In terms of the environment, agriculture and fisheries, and I will press for environmental standards to be protected and strengthened as the Repeal Bill makes its way through Parliament.