A consultation on Environmental Principles and Governance post-Brexit aimed at maintaining effective, coherent environmental governance after the UK leaves the European Union has today been launched

First published:
18 March 2019
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The Welsh Government is committed to maintaining, enhancing and improving environmental standards and to ensuring we have effective governance arrangements in place.

Our first priority has been to deliver an extensive legislation programme to ensure existing legislation can continue after exit day providing the same level of environmental standards and protection.

However, leaving the EU will mean the EU Governance mechanisms will no longer apply. The 12 week consultation launched today seeks views on how we provide Wales with an effective governance framework building on our current legislative framework.

In Wales, ground breaking legislation such as the Well-being of Future Generations and Environment Acts have already placed sustainable development and the environment at the heart of decision-making across Government and we have introduced a number of environmental principles, drawn from international best practice.

As a result of our approach, which has put us at the forefront not only in the UK but also internationally, Wales is already more aligned to the structure at the EU level and is at a different starting position to the rest of the UK.

Post-Brexit, environmental law and policy derived from the EU, will no longer be subject to the oversight of EU institutions and the Court of Justice of the European Union.

In Wales, there is already a unique framework in relation to sustainable development where the Auditor General and Future Generations Commissioner support public bodies on sustainable development. The consultation seeks views on how environmental governance can be improved in a way that aligns with the wider framework. This could include improvements to existing structures and a specific oversight body.

The consultation also recognises whilst Brexit presents an opportunity for Wales to build on its existing legislation, there are instances where it will be important post-EU membership for the four administrations of the UK to work more collaboratively. For example, where there are common UK obligations, UK-wide governance may be appropriate.

The closing date for the consultation is 23.59 on 9 June 2019.

Launching the consultation, the minister said: 

“We are fortunate in Wales to be a nation with a rich natural environment. Our natural resources are not only important environmentally but are a key part of our identity and culture and are also vital to our prosperity.

“Existing environmental governance has driven a marked improvement in the health of our environment. As a Government, we are determined to ensure there is no drop in these environmental standards and we will continue to improve environmental regulation once the UK leaves the European Union.

“Our ground-breaking and internationally renowned legislation – the Future Generations and Environment Acts – will remain in place and will continue to put sustainable development at the core of everything we do. However, leaving the EU will cause us to lose some aspects of environmental governance.

“In Wales, we recognise our environment is intrinsically linked to our economy and essential to our society. In developing solutions for Wales we will continue to avoid creating a siloed approach to the environment recognising environmental challenges and realising the significant opportunities requires social and economic action.

“This is a complex issue which deserves careful consideration so we put in place the right governance arrangements for the future. I urge everyone with an interest to get involved and share their views with us.”