What is in store for post-Brexit environmental auditing and enforcement has yet to be decided.
However, in the Government’s 25 Year Plan for the Environment report published this month, the Environmental Audit Committee has called for the creation of the Environmental Enforcement and Audit Office (EEAO) to be modelled on the National Audit Office (NAO).
The undertaking of the EEAO should be to ensure that the enforcement, supervision, and strategy work that currently sits with the European Commission and European Court of Justice continues after Brexit.
Scrutiny of the 25 year plan
The report continues that it will be necessary to legislate for the EEAO’s role to include monitoring public authorities, making policy proposals and reporting of progress against the Government’s environmental targets, including scrutiny of the 25 Year Plan’s annual and five yearly progress reports.
This is particularly important as the EAC is critical of the lack of detail in the 25 Year Plan – and how the objectives will be achieved. It is therefore proposed that the EEAO should have the power to take the Government to court if standards are breached.
It is significant to note that the recent NAO report The packaging recycling obligations, published this week, highlighted problems with enforcement in the current system, concluding that the UK has been “exporting materials to other parts of the world without adequate checks to ensure this material is actually recycled”.
Both of the reports combine to show that although the 25 Year Plan is ambitious, it is imperative that there are legally binding targets and tough enforcement is carried out to ensure the best, most sustainable future for the UK’s environment.
Enhance environmental policy
When asked for comment regarding the findings of the EA’s publications, Ecosurety Policy Manager Robbie Staniforth, said “It is great to see the EAC making constructive suggestions to Government for how we should organise ourselves after exiting the EU. The NAO report highlighted enforcement problems that have already occurred whilst in the EU.
"It is concerning that without the EU apparatus to rely on, things could get worse for our environment in the future. The Government must follow up on the Secretary of State’s commitment to enhance environmental policy by detailing plans for improvement in the Resources and Waste Strategy due later this year.”
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