Planned environment body could replace current watchdog

11 Jan 18

A new independent body could replace the Environment Agency as part of a wider ‘green future’ policy launched today by prime minister Theresa May today. 

In A Green Future: Our 25 Year Plan to Improve the Environment, ministers said they would consult on creating an independent watchdog “that would hold government to account for upholding environmental standards”.

It was left unclear how this would relate to the Environment Agency or whether it would replace it.

A spokesperson for environment secretary Michael Gove said these issues would from part of a consultation later this year. They could not give an more precise timeframe for the consultation release date.  

The paper refers at several points to government working with local authorities and supporting them in regulatory duties, though proposed no specific new powers.

May said the plan aimed over a generation to improve the environment “by creating richer habitats for wildlife, improving air and water quality and curbing the scourge of plastic in the world’s oceans”.

Policies proposed included eliminating all avoidable plastic waste, creating 500,000 hectares of new habitat for endangered species and providing £5.7m for a new Northern Forest.

She said the UK hoped to become a world leader in environmental protection and would use its overseas aid spend to help developing nations combat plastic waste.

Gove said: “We will radically reduce the waste that is choking oceans and rivers, cleanse our air of toxic pollutants and create new habitats for our most precious wildlife to thrive.”

The government also plans to extend the ‘net environmental gain’ concept already in use for wildlife protection to flood protection, recreation and improved water and air quality.

This is where housebuilders can invest in these facilities to offset any environmental cost of their developments.

The government will issue a call for evidence on how changes to the tax system or charges on single-use plastics can play a role in reducing waste.

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