I have always been clear on the need to ensure that our environment is protected after we leave the EU. Our natural environment is precious and fragile and I believe that we must do everything we can to ensure that it is properly managed.
The EU (Withdrawal) Bill will convert all EU environmental law into UK law when we leave the Union next year. The manifesto on which I and all Conservative MPs were elected last year also promised that we should be the ‘first generation to leave the environment in a better state than we inherited it in.’
As you mention, a consultation has already been launched on environmental principles and governance but I do not share your view that its proposals are weak. The consultation proposes a new Environmental Principles and Governance Bill to ensure that environmental principles, such as the ‘polluter pays’ and the ‘precautionary principle’ are embedded into UK law. The Bill would also create a world-leading, independent environmental watchdog to hold the Government to account.
I do not believe that Lord Krebs’s amendment would be sufficient to achieve its laudable aims and I will not support it for that reason. The Secretary State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Michael Gove, has signalled, however, that the Government may be receptive to accepting an amendment that addresses some of the concerns expressed by the House of Lords in a more constructive way. I would be minded to support such an amendment.