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Devon County Council’s cabinet recommends no action on my post-Brexit environment watchdog motion

Wednesday, 12 September 2018 0 Comments by Claire

Devon County Council’s all Conservative cabinet opted only to recommend endorsing the ‘spirit’ of my motion at this morning’s cabinet meeting, instead of agreeing to urge government to provide a post-Brexit watchdog proper with legislative weight, which was the substance of my motion.

My motion was prompted by a campaign being run by the RSPB (and other environmental organisations) which are deeply concerned that the current vital environmental accountability on big business and our government, provided by EU legislation is likely to be written out of UK law, once the UK leaves the European Union.

Instead ministers are proposing law is replaced by policy. And a 25 year environment plan which has no legal weight.

If proposals go ahead, top lawyers have said that the British government and big business will be able to get away with polluting our air, seas and harming biodiversity with virtually no repercussions. 

Addressing the cabinet this morning, in an attempt to change councillors’ position I pointed out that the county council’s environment manager, Peter Chamberlain, had already sent a consultation response to minsters about this very issue, backing the strongest of powers for the watchdog.

I suggested to cabinet that if councillors are only backing the spirit of my motion, they are not actually supporting their own expert officer’s position on the issue!

I told the cabinet that the UK’s biodiversity is dropping off a cliff.  We are one of the most nature depleted countries in the WORLD.  And this dubious achievement has been under highly protective EU legislation, which forces the UK government into holding high standards for our seas, our air and our biodiversity – at least biodiversity in EU protected areas, which are numerous across Devon, including the East Devon pebblebeds, much of Dartmoor and the Exe Estuary.

Due to climate change, pesticides and a loss of habitat, our wildlife is declining at a rate never seen before by scientists. Even our once common hedgehog is now almost extinct in the countryside and are mostly only seen in gardens.

In fact, more than one in 10 of the UK’s wildlife species is now threatened with extinction and the numbers of the nation’s most endangered creatures have plummeted by two thirds since 1970, according to the latest State of Nature report.

It’s catastrophic stuff and councillors really have no excuse not to send a clear message into central government on this.

The last battle is at full council on 4 October, where I will present my final argument and it will be debated by councillors.

Here’s the webcast from this morning. See the list of speakers under item 12 – Motions

https://devoncc.public-i.tv/core/portal/webcast_interactive/357842

Pic: Addressing councillors at this morning’s cabinet.

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