Mr Gove replaced Andrea Leadsom in the role following the snap general election. The prominent campaigner for Brexit’s “green” credentials have previously been called into question due to his past-positions on environmental issues such as climate change.
Mr Gove, however, is set to announce today that Brexit offers an “historic opportunity” to protect the environment into the future. He also intends to use the opportunity to “reshape British laws to make it a world leader in green policies”.
“We now have an historic opportunity to review our policies on agriculture, land use, biodiversity, woodlands, marine conservation, fisheries, pesticide licensing, chemical regulation, animal welfare, habitat management, waste, water purity ,air quality and so much more”
Previous concerns have been raised that, with the majority of environmental law coming from – and enforced by – Europe, the UK’s environment may suffer as a result of leaving the EU.
The Government, however, has pledged to transpose the “whole body” of EU environmental law into UK law and also said that existing UK mechanisms, primarily judicial review and the role of parliament, are enough to replace all the functions currently carried out by EU agencies and the European Court of Justice (ECJ), in terms of enforcement.
Mr Gove (pictured) is set to announce he wants to protect the natural world and champion sustainable development in a speech to WWF’s Living Planet Centre in Woking.
It’s expected Mr Gove will acknowledge the damage done to the environment in the past and announce he is motivated by a “hard calculation” of the need to protect the natural world or face disaster.
“We now have an historic opportunity to review our policies on agriculture, land use, biodiversity, woodlands, marine conservation, fisheries, pesticide licensing, chemical regulation, animal welfare, habitat management, waste, water purity ,air quality and so much more,” he will say.
“Informed by rigorous scientific analysis, we can develop global gold standard policies on pesticides and chemicals, habitat management and biodiversity, animal welfare and biosecurity, soil protection and river management and so many other areas.”
What this will mean for the resources sector remains to be seen. A letter written to Mr Gove in June by the Trade Association Group (TAG) of the resources and waste management industry, set out three actions it believes should be taken to improve resource use and provide jobs for the economy.
Reducing Plastic Waste
[UPDATE 11.55 21 July]
Environment Secretary Michael Gove pledged action to reduce plastic waste choking our oceans as he set out his ambition for the UK to lead the world in environmental protection.
Around eight million tonnes of plastic makes its way into oceans each year, posing a serious threat to our natural and marine environment – experts estimate plastic is ingested by 31 species of marine mammals and over 100 species of sea birds.
As new figures published today revealed more than nine billion fewer plastic bags were used since the government introduced a 5p charge, an 83% reduction, the Environment Secretary set out further plans to prevent other sources of plastic finding their way into our oceans and seas during a speech entitled ‘Delivering a Green Brexit’ today.
“We will explore new methods of reducing the amount of plastic – in particular plastic bottles – entering our seas, improve incentives for reducing waste and litter, and review the penalties available to deal with polluters – all part of a renewed strategy on waste and resources that looks ahead to opportunities outside the EU”
Mr Gove confirmed legislation will be introduced this year to ban the sale and manufacture of microbeads – tiny pieces of plastic that are easily swallowed by marine life – in cosmetics and personal care products such as toothpastes and shower gels.
He said: “We will explore new methods of reducing the amount of plastic – in particular plastic bottles – entering our seas, improve incentives for reducing waste and litter, and review the penalties available to deal with polluters – all part of a renewed strategy on waste and resources that looks ahead to opportunities outside the EU”
Since its introduction, the 5p plastic bag charge has reduced use by over nine billion bags – enough to wrap around the world more than 100 times. Money raised from the charge has generated £95 million for good causes.
An expert group announced as part of the government’s Litter Strategy has begun work to explore ways to reduce the use of commonly littered items such as drink bottles, as well as considering the advantages and disadvantages of different types of deposit and reward and return schemes.
The government is also bringing forward legislation to help councils tackle littering from vehicles and will shortly publish our response to a consultation into increasing the fixed penalty fine for littering.
Clean Growth Plan
Mr Gove also made the announcement that a Clean Growth Plan is due to be published in the Autumn. This will include whathe calls “ambitious policies” with reagrd to clean techonlogy and the curclar economy.
“We are developing expertise in new areas from Ultra-Low Emission Vehicles to waste management, supported by wise leadership from the ministerial team at the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy,” he said.
“In particular I am looking forward to the policies being planned by my friend Claire Perry for the Clean Growth Plan which is due to be launched in the autumn.
“They should reinforce our ambition to be the home of the most economically and environmentally ambitious policies in the areas of clean, green, technology, from energy generation to transport, the circular economy to house building.