Thank you to everyone who contacted me about environmental protections and the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill. I received well over 200 emails from constituents about this, more than for any of the other email campaigns about amendments to this bill.
I know that environmental concerns are important to many of my constituents and I completely agree that Brexit must not lead to the watering down of existing standards in this area. The EU (Withdrawal) Bill does not fully provide for the transfer of existing protections and that is why I have always supported amendments which seek to safeguard environmental standards.
As you may be aware, the Government has announced a consultation on environmental principles and governance after Brexit. The consultation closes on 2 August 2018 and I believe the proposals contained within it are disappointing. The proposed watchdog is a toothless imitation of current EU institutions; it will advise and lay reports to Parliament with formal action only at the end of numerous bureaucratic hoops.
When the EU (Withdrawal) Bill was in the Lords, Lord Krebs moved an amendment which sought to ensure that Brexit does not result in a weakening of environmental standards. Unfortunately the Government does not support it, arguing that it comes ahead of the outcome of the consultation.
I remain concerned that EU-derived environmental protections and standards are at risk and that additional steps must be taken to secure the future of our environment and the natural world. That is why I supported Lord Kreb’s amendment (Amendment 3) when MPs voted on it in the Commons yesterday.
Sadly, as you may have seen reported we lost by 320 votes to 296. An alternative Government amendment was passed instead, which seeks maintenance of environmental principles but has been criticised by environmental groups for not going far enough. I am very disheartened by this result and will be watching the Government’s progress on this closely.