U.K. Environment Secretary Promises Green Brexit With Watchdog

  • Consultation on new independent body to start early next year
  • Gove pledges to enhance environmental standards under plans

Early morning mist lingers in fields as the autumn sun rises over the Somerset Levels

Photographer: Matt Cardy/Getty Images Europe

The U.K. government plans to create an independent environmental standards watchdog for England after Brexit, according to Environment Secretary Michael Gove.

A consultation on the powers and scope of the body will be started early next year, the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs said in an emailed statement. With policies set out in full only in the European Union treaties, environmental decisions are currently overseen by the European Commission.

“We will deliver a green Brexit where environmental standards are not only maintained but enhanced,” said Gove. “We will consult as widely as possible on these proposals to ensure we get this important decision right for future generations.”

Environmental protection is just one of the areas where the U.K. will have to write new laws after its departure from the EU. The government’s Brexit department estimates it will have to pass between 800 and 1,000 statutory instruments.

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The proposed watchdog will “advise and challenge government,” said Gove, while ensuring that environmental principles underpin policy making. 

The devolved regions of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have the power to set their own environmental policy, and the government plans to explore whether they want to take a similar approach or set their own rules.

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