Environmental Principles and Governance after EU Exit

Closed 2 Aug 2018

Opened 10 May 2018


When we leave the EU, we will be able to build on the successes achieved through our membership, and address the failures, to become a world-leading protector of the natural world. We have also published the 25 Year Environment Plan, which sets out this Government’s ambition for this to be the first generation that leaves the environment in a better state than that in which we inherited it. These good intentions must be underpinned by a strengthened governance framework  that supports our environmental protection measures and creates new mechanisms to incentivise environmental improvement. 

***Since this consultation was launched, the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018 has received Royal Assent (26th June, 2018).

Section 16 of the Act relates to arrangements for environmental principles and governance following the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union; this can be viewed online at http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2018/16/section/16/enacted

This requires that, six months after Royal Assent of this Act, the Secretary of State must publish draft legislation which sets out a list of environmental principles (which are listed in subsection (2)). The draft legislation must place a duty on the Secretary of State to publish a policy statement in relation to the application and interpretation of those principles which, when circumstances to be set out under the legislation apply, ministers of the Crown must have regard to in making and developing policy.

The draft legislation must also define environmental law and make provision for the establishment of a public authority with functions for taking proportionate enforcement action (including legal proceedings if necessary) where the authority considers that a minister of the Crown is not complying with that environmental law.

The duty on the Secretary of State to publish a draft Bill applies in relation to England, and to reserved matters across the rest of the UK.

Respondents may wish to take this into consideration when responding to the consultation questions.

Why your views matter

We have launched this consultation on the development of an Environmental Principles and Governance Bill. This new piece of legislation will mark the creation of a new, world-leading, statutory and independent environmental watchdog to hold government to account on our environmental ambitions and obligations once we have left the EU. This new body will work alongside a new policy statement setting out the environmental principles that will guide successful and sustainable policy-making, marking the beginning of a new era for our environment.

This document addresses some of the key questions around how environmental principles should be embedded into law, public policy-making and delivery, and what functions and powers the new environmental watchdog should have to oversee environmental law and policy. It is set out in three parts:

Part 1 – Environmental Principles

Part 2 – Accountability for the Environment

Part 3 – Overall Environmental Governance

The consultation proposals apply to England and reserved matters only.

If you would like to keep in contact with us, to express interest in this or any other Defra consultation. Please give us your details through the link below.


What happens next

When this consultation ends, we will summarise the responses and place this summary on our website at: https://www.gov.uk/defra. This summary will include a list of organisations that responded but not personal names, addresses or other contact details.

Copies of responses will be made available to the public on request. If you do not want your response (including your name, contact details and any other personal information) to be publicly available, please say so clearly in writing when you send your response to the consultation. Please explain why you need to keep details confidential. We will take your reasons into account if someone asks for this information under Freedom of Information legislation. But, because of the law, we cannot promise that we will always be able to keep those details confidential. Please note, if your computer automatically includes a confidentiality disclaimer, this will not count as a confidentiality request.


  • Charities/Voluntary Organisations
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  • Water/water Industry sector
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