The governance gap – UK’s proposed Office for Environmental Protection lacks independence

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    The UK Government published before Christmas the Draft Environmental Bill which sets the base of an Environmental Bill (due to be published in 2019), meant to maintain and even “surpass” EU legislation.

    This piece of law creates the Office for Environmental Protection (OEP), due to be in charge of monitoring and reporting on environmental laws. It can also take action in case public authorities fail to comply with environmental norms. The OEP’s mandate seems to have addressed a series of concerns previously expressed by stakeholders (Bar Council, UK Environmental Law Association): the possibility of submitting individual complaints and the power of the OEP to bring the Government to court. Nevertheless, one crucial issue remains controversial: its independence. The clauses mention that non-executive members are appointed by the Secretary of State, their remuneration or compensation for “special circumstances” being also set by him/her. The Secretary of State also holds responsibility for establishing the reasonable sufficient budgets for the OEP’s functioning.

    Draft Environment Bill, December 2018
    Bar Council, response “Environmental Principles and Governance” public consultation
    UK Environmental Law Association, “Brexit and Environment Law”
    Insidetrack (hosted by Green Alliance) critique

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