This council shares the government’s desire to leave our environment in a better state than it is now.

But its proposals are unlikely to achieve that ambition. They will leave the environment with weaker protection than it currently has under our EU membership – a long way off the ‘world-leading watchdog’ it promised.

To deliver the protection the environment needs, this council calls on the government to ensure that the proposed new law, must at least:

•        Deliver world-leading environmental governance, including the watchdog promised, with powers that are at least as strong than any other environmental watchdog in the world, which any citizen can complain to for free.

•        Deliver a watchdog which will investigate all breaches of environmental law by any part of government, including reviewing and challenging significant, strategic or nationally important planning and infrastructure decisions, robustly enforce the law including through fines and legal action, and ensure public bodies act to ensure damage is restored.

•        Put environmental principles into law, not just policy. These principles should include at a minimum, those environmental principles found in the EU treaties (for example, that principle that polluters should pay to rectify damage they cause), but the bill should allow for the addition of new principles where appropriate.

•        Set legal targets for nature’s recovery, against which this and future governments will be held to account, to ensure long-term action that will leave the environment in a better state.

• Work with other countries, in a transparent way, to co-develop and co-design environmental governance arrangements and secure our existing environmental principles.

This Council recognises the huge importance of the Devon environment – both for local residents and visitors who will support the local economy, as well as the wildlife, and urges government to listen to environmental organisations such as the RSPB and significantly strengthen proposals to meet its own strong ambitions for nature’s recovery.

Pic: Enjoying Dartmoor river ealier this amazing summer!