IEMA welcomes amendment to EU Withdrawal Bill

IEMA has praised yesterday’s vote by parliament to ensure vital environmental protections are enshrined in UK law after the country departs the EU next year.

MPs voted by 320 to 296 in favour of an amendment to the EU Withdrawal Bill establishing key environmental principles like the ‘polluter pays’ rule in primary legislation.

It also gives a new independent watchdog the power to hold the government to account and take legal action when environmental protections are not being implemented sufficiently.

IEMA chief policy advisor, Martin Baxter, said: “We welcome parliament’s decision to close the Brexit environmental governance gap.

“Underpinning protections and future environmental policy will be based on key principles including the precautionary principle, the polluter pays principle and sustainable development.”

IEMA had already called on the government to ensure environmental principles are maintained post-Brexit when giving evidence to a select committee enquiry into the proposed Environmental Principles and Governance Bill.

It also recommended a new watchdog be given powers to enforce environmental law and take the government to court, with Baxter warning the bill must go beyond the status quo.

IEMA has proposed five-yearly updates to the government’s 25-year Environment plan, as well as a fully-funded programme to ensure targets and milestones are met.

An overarching “duty of environmental responsibility” on public and private activity was also suggested, as well as cross-Whitehall regulation, incentives and taxation to stimulate sustainable development and economic growth

“Legislating to maintain the status quo won’t provide the underpinning legal framework we need to achieve long-term environmental goals,” Baxter continued.

“The proposed Environmental Principles and Governance Bill needs to be broader in scope than simply replicating existing EU functions. It needs to provide the legal framework for delivering the 25-year Environment Plan.”

IEMA has repeatedly called on the government to go above and beyond EU environmental legislation, producing a framework for future policy that can be read here.

 

Image credit: iStock

Author: 

Chris Seekings is a reporter for TRANSFORM

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