Plans for a Green Brexit took a huge step forward this week as the Government accepted an amendment drawn up by Richmond Park and North Kingston MP Zac Goldsmith together with Oliver Letwin MP.
The EU Withdrawal Bill will replicate existing EU law in British law after the UK leaves the EU, but there have been concerns that it would leave the UK with no environmental regulator as this job is currently performed by the EU and its courts.
Zac’s amendment to the Bill, which is backed by MPs who voted both Leave and Remain, mandates the Government to bring forward legislation within six months to create a tough, independent environmental regulator for the UK and to enshrine key principles of environmental law on our statute book. It will guarantee that the UK has at least as good environmental protections as we enjoy at the moment, with the potential to go much further.
The Government will now consult on the exact functions of the new environmental regulator, but Zac’s work ensures that it will be able to take the Government to court for failing to protect the environment.
Commenting, Zac said: “Brexit is a fantastic opportunity for the environment and we have already seen very encouraging signs from the Government in this area, from seeking to ban the export of live animals for slaughter to overhauling the failed Common Agricultural Policy so we only give money to those protecting and enhancing nature. But this would all have been weakened without a strong, independent regulator to make sure that Ministers stay true to their promises and look after the environment. I am delighted that the Government has accepted an amendment from me and my colleagues that will do just that.”