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Lords vote backs meaningful green watchdog

The government has been defeated in the House of Lords over environmental standards after Brexit. An amendment to the EU Withdrawal Bill that demands environmental standards are maintained and enforced after Brexit has just passed in the House of Lords.

The vote comes as Environment Secretary, Michael Gove, has faced cross-party criticism after the consultation for a new green watchdog received a frosty reception last week from MPs, peers and NGOs.

ClientEarth law and policy advisor Tom West said: “Ministers have shown a worrying lack of ambition to defend our environment after Brexit. Today’s vote sends a clear message to the government that laws to protect our environment must be kept and properly upheld.

“Without strong laws and the infrastructure to police them properly, turning back the clock on 40 years of gains from the EU becomes a very real risk for the UK’s environmental protections.

“We need a powerful environment watchdog that can speak up for our nature and countryside and hold the government and public bodies to account.”

Today’s amendment addresses some of the risk and uncertainty created by the consultation document, by setting a clear legislative framework and timescale for the watchdog’s creation. It also says the watchdog must be able to “ensure compliance” with the law, which Gove’s current proposals fall short of.

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Nathan Anderson

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