A new environmental enforcement body will be set up to monitor and advise Government and public bodies on the implementation of environmental standards in England post-Brexit. Michael Gove's announcement (12 November 2017) brings some much-needed clarity on the way forward for environmental regulation - even if the details are still to be ironed out.
Consultation on the new body - to commence in early 2018 - will also consult on plans for a new policy statement on environmental principles, and the approach to be taken to maintenance of environmental standards in the devolved Administrations.
From a practical perspective, the ambition of the consultation to consolidate, simplify and tailor environmental principles for decision-making is to be welcomed. Environmental law and policy is currently a vast and complex web of EU Directives, domestic legislation and international agreements.
The position upon Brexit will initially be a continuation of the status quo, as the EU Withdrawal Bill immediately transfers all existing EU environmental law into UK law.
The Government's announcement will give much-needed certainty to business in the short term, but in the longer term it represents a real and important opportunity to tailor a policy approach to the environment which is clear, proportionate and consistent for the UK, while offering certainty of protection of environmental standards.
For further reading see the House of Commons Briefing Paper 'Brexit and the environment' dated 13 November 2017.
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