Lesley Griffiths AM, Minister for Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs
Today I am launching a consultation on Environmental Principles and Governance in Wales Post European Union Exit.
As a Government, we have been clear and consistent in our message - Brexit must not result in a dilution of the rights, which currently flow from our membership of the EU. There should be no regression in our environmental standards.
To ensure there will be no gap in relation to EU environmental standards currently in place, we have over the last six months delivered the most extensive programme of legislation ever undertaken by the Welsh Government to ensure the continuation of existing protections and in a no deal situation will mean existing environmental standards continue to apply from exit day.
However, exiting the EU means there will be gaps in existing governance arrangements provided in the EU Treaties such as, the application of EU environmental principles, which have guided policy development and in the role EU institutions and the Court of European Justice in the oversight of the implementation of EU law.
Whilst we recognise, as a consequence of leaving the EU there will be governance gaps, however, due to our internationally recognised legislation, our gaps differ from those in other administrations across the UK. Our legislation has already put in place core elements of the governance, which exists at an EU level.
Through the Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015 and the Environment (Wales) Act 2016, sustainable development was enshrined as the overarching context for policy and the basis upon which natural resources are managed and used. These Acts introduced key principles to guide the delivery of the objectives of the Acts, which are integrated into policy-making and delivery. Our domestic primary legislation will remain in place post EU exit.
In addition, legislation has also been passed, which has significantly reformed bodies responsible for supporting the delivery of environmental legislation in Wales. In having a set of environmental principles and a different set of bodies, Wales is already in a very different starting place, which, means that unlike in the rest of the UK, there is a legislative framework in place to build upon.
This consultation seeks views on what gaps will need to be addressed in Wales and how these gaps should be effectively addressed to provide an environmental governance framework, which meets the specific needs of Wales and ensures we continue to deliver on our environmental standards.
I encourage stakeholders and Welsh citizens to contribute to the consultation.
The closing date for the consultation is 09 June 2019.