Environmental secretary Andrea Leadsom, in addressing members of the Environmental Audit Committee, has stated that the UK’s environmental ambitions in regards to waste would not be “watered down” considering the country’s decision to leave the European Union.
Rejecting the suggestion from committee chair Mary Creagh that environmental issues would be “de-prioritised” without pressure from the EU, Leadsom said:
I do not see why there is any sense in which the goals of good environmental outcomes will be watered down in any way.
“We have very clear goals around issues such as air quality and waste.”
Leadsom continued, stating that it is the ambition of the current government to be the first generation to leave the environment in a better state that it found it and said that a 25-year environmental framework was due to be published within the next couple of months.
In the meeting, the environmental secretary was able to explain how the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) is incorporating Brexit implications within its operations.
As well as explaining that Defra is currently working to bring all EU environmental legalisation into UK law under the Great Repeal Bill, she explained that the department was looking to, at its leisure, “repeal, amend, and strengthen” environmental laws, and hoped this would be a “great comfort” to environmental groups.
When asked whether there would be a need for a new environmental court to replace the European Court of Justice, Leadsom said that, “the UK courts will be perfectly able to deal with any issues of enforcement. We don’t need to replace European courts.”
Today, Friends of the Earth Scotland expressed concerns over the direction of the UK environmental policy, stating that both climate change targets and renewable energy funding might be under jeopardy once that the UK leaves the European Union.
Dr Richard Dixon, Friends of the Earth Scotland director said that, “there is a real danger that Scotland will toughen up its own climate target, to play its fair part in delivering the UN Paris Agreement, only to be held back by UK energy market rules rigged to support nuclear power.”