I’ve recently been contacted by lots of people from the constituency about the environmental protections.
Like myself, they are aware that leaving the EU has many different consequences. Our laws aren’t only embedded in EU structure, but they’re also monitored and enforced by a range of EU institutions.
Some of these laws are essential to the protection of our wildlife and wild places - therefore local people are rightly concerned by the European Union Withdrawal Bill’s potential to water down existing standards once we have left the EU.
As mentioned, our laws, including environmental laws, are currently monitored and enforced by EU institutions. If the government doesn’t meet legal requirements or maintain certain standards – they are held to account, which is what needs to be done. In the European Union Withdrawal Bill there is a lack of accountability – and a self-regulating government is not an adequate substitute.
The environment is a matter that should not be overlooked or marginalised and we must make sure UK standards keep pace with the EU after we leave.
The long-awaited 25 Year Environment Plan is still outstanding. It has been reported that its publication can no longer be guaranteed this year. This delay is unacceptable and only further confirms that the Government's record on combating climate change and environmental damage is one of inaction and broken promises.
I will be making sure I press for environmental standards to be protected and strengthened.
I have also written to Michael Gove, recently appointed Environment Secretary about another important environmental issue to do with protecting and restoring the rivers in our constituency.
I have asked him to:
1. Safeguard nature by ensuring European environmental directives, including those protecting our water environment, are transposed into law in England and Wales and mechanisms and sanctions are established to enforce implementation after we leave the European Union, so that our environment is at least as well protected when we leave the EU as it is today.
2. Deliver immediate action to address the issues of sewage pollution and over-abstraction in our rivers by establishing mechanisms and sanctions to water companies.
a. Mandate water companies to set out long-term wastewater plans to ensure sewage stops polluting our rivers.
b. Empower the environmental regulators to ensure all abstraction is limited to sustainable levels.
3. Publish a strong 25 year plan for the environment which includes committing to water legislation for England and Wales.