The draft Environment Bill published yesterday by the Government does not go far enough to tackle the serious environmental challenges we face or provide legal certainty for the future of our natural world, say The Wildlife Trusts. And nor does the accompanying policy note.
The Bill and policy note fall short in a number of ways:
- The proposed green watchdog is too weak. Much more is needed if it is to bear any comparison to the environmental enforcement powers currently held by the European Commission and Court. To do this the watchdog would need to be more independent and able to hold the whole Government to account, including through having powers to issue fines if the Government fails to implement environmental legislation properly.
- The Policy Note misses out nature recovery networks. We are disappointed that it fails to propose key measures needed to secure nature’s recovery; not least requiring the production of nature recovery network maps and compliance with these. (See The Wildlife Trusts’ Wilder Britain proposals)
The Government has committed in its manifesto to being the first generation to leave the environment in a better state than it found it. Leaving the E.U. and then introducing a weak Environment Bill will not achieve this. The Wildlife Trusts believe that this Bill, so far, is not good enough.
Nothing can replace the full powers now held by the EU and European Court of Justice that have forced us to clean up our rivers and seas and protect key wildlife sites. But a really powerful independent watchdog would make a big difference.