25 June 2020
The vigilant gaze of the European Commission will begin to turn away from UK when the post-Brexit transition period ends at the turn of the year. The Commission has used its powers as the ‘guardian of the treaties’ to enforce EU laws relating to nature conservation, waste and air pollution. Its absence will leave a governance gap, and replacement institutions are needed to ensure that environmental laws are enforced.
The UK Environment Bill proposes an ‘Office for Environmental Protection’, with powers to enforce environmental laws mainly in England and Northern Ireland (discussed on the UKHRB by Rosalind English & Rafe Jennings). A separate body is planned for Wales.
The Scottish Government published its plans last week for the creation of a new environmental watchdog named ‘Environmental Standards Scotland’ (ESS) in the UK Withdrawal from the European Union (Continuity) (Scotland) Bill.
This article discusses the functions and powers of the ESS in the Bill and then analyses the proposals through the lens of the UN’s Paris Principles (used for assessing the credibility of national human rights institutions).
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