Environment Secretary Michael Gove promised to deliver a ‘Green Brexit’ and a brighter future for farming as he set out proposals earlier this autumn to reward those in the industry who contribute to better air and water quality, improved soil health and measures to reduce flooding. But new concerns have been raised about whether the reality will match the rhetoric surrounding the Government’s new Agriculture Bill.
Mary Creagh, who chairs the Environmental Audit Committee and is Labour MP for Wakefield, says she is “deeply” worried there will be a gap in environmental protection laws covering chemicals, waste, water and air after Britain leaves the European Union.
The Government’s response to the recommendations made by the committee still leaves one-third of the current EU legislation not replicated in the EU Withdrawal Bill.
The committee has also stressed the need for the creation of a strong and independent environmental watchdog which has the power to properly enforce policies and hold public bodies to account.
As The Agriculture Bill makes its way through Parliament, such concerns must be heeded and gaps in environmental protections addressed as a priority.
Mr Gove is right that Brexit presents a unique opportunity to deliver a better and more environmentally-friendly funding regime for farmers as the UK leaves the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy - but the complexities of Britain’s departure from the rules which the nation has operated under for decades also presents potential pitfalls through the possibility of important legislation not being replicated or improved upon.
It is vital for all of our futures that effective environmental rules are imposed and effectively enforced when Britain leaves the EU.