With MPs beginning talks about the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill, environmental scientists, engineers, ecologists and water and waste experts have called for meaningful Parliamentary examination of environmental policies and laws.
Although Environment Secretary Michael Gove has talked about his desire for a “Green Brexit” and the Conservative Government’s manifesto stating to “be the first generation to leave the environment in a better state than it inherited”, many professional bodies believe that the EU Withdrawal Bill “gravely threatens” the ability to achieve either.
In letters to Michael Gove and Brexit Secretary David Davis, the institutes have warned that the bill fails to appropriately provide for Parliamentary scrutiny of changes that are needed to make environmental laws work.
They also warned that it fails to both ensure the fundamental principles which underpin decades of environmental improvements are protected, or provide a meaningful structure for independent analysis of the future Government performance on the environment.
The bodies added that devolved administrations should not be stopped from providing ambitious environmental policies as a result of the Bill.
They have called for the legal establishment of a new body that is answerable to Parliament and separate from the Government, which would help provide the inspection that is currently implemented by the European Commission.
This has previously allowed citizens and organisations to take governments to court over failing to meet legal requirements.
The European Policy Forum (EPF) is a group of 70,000 UK environmental professionals who promote environmental sustainability for the public’s benefit.
EPF chair Professor Will Pope said: “The Government has welcome ambitions for the environment, with a new 25-year plan imminent and a commitment to improve environmental quality for future generations. Yet plans without appropriate tools and measures for delivery and scrutiny will be doomed to failure.
“We are calling for appropriate checks and balances to be established from the outset, to ensure we do not risk becoming the ‘dirty man of Europe’ again.”
EPF is made up of The Chartered Institution of Water and Environmental Management, The Institution of Environmental Sciences, The Chartered of Ecology and Environmental Management, The Chartered Institution of Wastes Management, The Society for the Environment, IEMA and The Landscape Institute.