The Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA) has issued a reply to an article called  “These three post-Brexit bills bulldoze a hole through environmental protections” from Guardian journalist, Fiona Harvey. 

DEFRA’s reply was to the correspondent’s criticism of the trio of bills set before parliament. The Environment Bill, Agriculture Bill and the Fisheries Bill replace the EU’s comprehensive framework directives, common Agricultural Policy and Common Fisheries Policy.

In her piece Harvey says:

“All three bills contain major flaws that undermine the government’s claims. They leave gaps, fail on enforcement and oversight, open loopholes for future ministers to quietly backslide from existing standards, and turn what is currently a coherent system of long-term, stable regulation into a patchwork of competing and sometimes contradictory proposals.”

In  particular to the Fisheries Bill the article says:

“Jettisoning the EU’s common fisheries policy also offered ministers a chance to stop rampant overfishing. They have not taken it. The bill retains a broad aim to restore stocks to “maximum sustainable yield” – the level, worked out by scientists, at which fishing does not harm the ability of the fish population to reproduce. But the fishing quotas each year are still to be set by ministers, with the power to depart from that scientific advice, and to choose which stocks will be fished sustainably and which will not.”

Reacting to the general article the DEFRA replied: 

“We do not agree with her premise that our bills are a threat to our wildlife and natural environment.

“Now we have left the EU, we can transform British agriculture to reward farmers for enhancing the environment, tackling climate change and protecting our wildlife for future generations.”

“We’re clear we will continue to lead the world on the environment and our three landmark Bills will be the cornerstone of the work.”

On the Fisheries Bill, DEFRA stated:

“The Guardian recognises the Fisheries Bill commits the UK to sustainable fishing and setting legally binding plans to achieve Maximum Sustainable Yield (MSY) for all fish stocks.

“But not that we are seeking a fairer share of quota, as a proportion of the existing sustainable catch, not an increase in fishing pressure on fish stocks.

“As well as powers to implement new deals negotiated with the EU and other coastal states, set quotas, fishing opportunities and days at sea, the Bill includes new measures for Devolved Governments and a single set of UK-wide fisheries objectives to ensure that fish stocks, and the marine environment, are better protected.”

Source: DEFRA and The Guardian

DEFRA reacts to Guardian criticism in ‘bulldoze’ article

by editor time to read: 7 min