Following the outcome of the EU referendum, there was widespread concern across the environment sector about gaps in environmental governance arising from the UK’s departure from the EU.
Environmental groups across the UK continue to call for action to address this ‘governance gap’ with the fear that it could lead to environmental harm with limited options for redress for governments and public bodies.
The EU’s system of environmental governance from which the UK has departed, includes the monitoring and reporting on environmental law implementation, a method of receiving citizens’ complaints, and taking enforcement action when breaches of EU law occur.
Although there has been some action by the governments of the UK to reinstate domestic regimes of environmental governance, including interim measures, there are currently no comprehensive systems in place post-Brexit.
The absence of a replacement regime in Wales has prompted stakeholders to suggest that Wales now has “the weakest environmental governance structures in western Europe”.
The Climate Change, Environment and Rural Affairs Committee of the Fifth Senedd argued this is a key issue for the Sixth Senedd. However the Welsh Government’s Programme for Government (2021-26) does not include plans for establishing a new system of environmental governance.
This briefing provides background on the EU system of environmental governance, the current situation across the UK, and the proposals for Wales going forward.