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Government to set up Office for Environmental Protection

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Environment secretary Michael Gove has launched draft legislation to set up an independent environmental watchdog which will “hold Government and public bodies to account” after Britain leaves the EU, including scrutinising new targets on waste.

Under the Environment Bill, an Office for Environmental Protection (OEP) will be created to uphold environmental legislation.

This will include taking on legal powers of enforcement instead of the European Commission. Defra said the ’polluter pays’ principle was a “guiding principle” for legislation.

The OEP could take on oversight of new targets on waste management following consultations on the recently published resources and waste strategy.

Gove said the draft clauses in the Bill placed “our environmental ambition and accountability at the heart of Government”.

He added: “They set out how we will create a pioneering new system of green governance, placing our 25-year environment plan on a statutory footing. We will explore options for strong targets to improve our environment, and provisions on air quality, waste and water resource management, and restoring nature.

“Our ambition is to be the first generation to leave the environment in a better state than that in which we found it. We will keep building on our successes by enhancing our environmental standards and delivering a green Brexit.”

The Government has also published a consultation on Defra’s 25-year environment plan.

MRW has been told by department officials that policies flowing from the resources and waste strategy will be dealt with by both primary legislation under the Environment Bill and secondary legislation through existing Acts of Parliament.

A series of consultations on measures outlined in the strategy, including extended producer responsibility for packaging, a deposit return scheme and consistent local authority household recycling collections, are expected to be completed before the UK leaves the EU.

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