Environment Secretary Michael Gove has announced that an interim environmental ‘shadow body’ is in place in the event the UK leaves the EU without a deal in place. 

Speaking to the EU Energy and Environment Sub-Committee yesterday (3 April) in an evidence session into Defra’s preparedness in the event of a ‘no deal’ exit from the EU, the Environment Secretary said an ’eminent’ environmental lawyer will head the new ‘shadow body’ to oversee the environment protection regime in the event the UK leaves the EU without a withdrawal agreement.

Michael Gove said:

“In the sub optimal situation where we leave without a deal, we have secured an eminent, energetic and effective watchdog.”

The body will act in the interim period between the UK leaving the EU and the establishing of the Office for Environmental Protection (OEP).

The UK government has vowed to uphold EU environmental law post-Brexit. The OEP will take over enforcement of this law from the European Commission.

The commission will retain this role until the end of the Brexit transition period in 2020 when the OEP is due to be up and running. However in the event of ‘no deal’ exit the Commission will no longer have a remit in the UK.

Gove said the shadow body will “advise, monitor and refer to the OEP any breaches.”

He said:

“If anyone thinks that a no deal EU exit will create an opportunity for them to play ‘fast and loose’ then it will be clear their activities will be checked and monitored.

“We will use the full rigor of the law in the interim, and if there is any need for any part of governmentto be ‘brought to brook’, the shadow body will make sure that, when the OEP comes into being, appropriate action is taken.”