(30 January 2019) Academics and legal professionals were questioned on the draft Environment Bill by the UK’s Parliament Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee. The draft Bill sets out how the UK will maintain environmental standards after Brexit.
The expert witnesses agreed the draft needs significant improvement. The issue of enforcement mechanisms was highlighted unanimously, and is considered to prove a difficult test after Brexit. Other criticism was raised with regard to the independence of the Office for Environmental Protection (OEP) and a failure to bring across all the existing acquis communautaire. According to Professor Maria Lee, the provisions on environmental principles fall short on what has been promised: they are set to have a weak status (policy instead of legal), will be binding only to ministers of the crown (not all public authorities) and will not apply in all their functions (instead only to high level policies).