Michael Gove: With a Green Brexit, we can deliver on our commitment to tomorrow's generation
We have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to make Britain a global leader in green policy and rewrite our approach to environmentalism, farming and fishing, writes Michael Gove
Not for the first time in history, MPs and peers find themselves front and centre in recasting Britain’s role in the world.
We are leaving the European Union and forging a new future for the nation. The European Union (Withdrawal) Bill, which will make sure there is a functioning statute book the day we leave the EU, is progressing through parliament. Negotiations between Brussels and London are well underway and the government is working for the right deal, here at home and abroad, for the British people.
As we prepare for life outside of the EU, the need to take the right environmental action – to tackle climate change, to cut pollution and waste and to reverse species decline – has rarely been more important. But I am positive about our prospects of rising to this challenge.
This government was elected on a promise to be the first to leave the environment in a better state than we inherited it. And now we have a very real opportunity to help deliver that pledge.
As part of securing a “Green Brexit”, we have a chance to reform how we farm; how we fish; to reshape our relationship with our land and our seas.
As I said at my recent session before the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee, there are huge possibilities for agriculture and fisheries outside the European Union – greater than perhaps any other sector. Coming out of the Common Agricultural Policy and Common Fisheries Policy gives us a once-in-a-generation chance to take back control of our own food, farming and environmental policies.
So what will this self-determined future look like? Our 25-year Environment Plan will be fundamental to setting out how we will improve our environment as we leave the European Union and make good on our vow to create a green legacy for future generations.
Our new agricultural policy will recognise the importance of improving production as well as protecting our strong food and animal welfare standards. It will reward farmers for providing environmental goods – and protect our proud, varied farming traditions.
Our new fishing policy will be guided by science, allocating quotas on the basis of what the evidence shows is sustainable, and doing more for conservation. We will also be able to ensure the UK’s fishing industry can thrive, as we control who accesses our waters.
And it is not just through reform of fishing policy we can ensure the marine environment is improved. We are tackling marine pollution by banning microbeads, implementing our hugely successful plastic bag charge and exploring more ways to reduce plastic waste. We are also reviewing the penalties available to deal with waste criminals and other polluters.
We are determined to secure a good Brexit deal for rural communities. We are making sure the right infrastructure is in place and have announced £200m to support rural businesses. As we leave the EU we will work closely with rural areas to consider the best options for future support.
Currently, when we speak as a government about Britain’s role in the world, we focus on security or trade. Of course, we are committed to maintaining our leadership in these areas and making sure we continue to have tariff-free, frictionless access for goods and services into the European market.
But we are also determined to be global leaders in protecting unique landscapes and habitats, fighting climate change, tackling the illegal wildlife trade and promoting the highest standards of animal welfare.
To do this, we must consider how we can create new institutions that both demonstrate, and deliver, environmental leadership.
Above all, we have a responsibility to deliver our commitment to tomorrow’s generation and hand over a healthier natural environment.
I look forward to continuing to work with parliament, with the Efra Select Committee and with other committees and groups of MPs to make certain that we do.
Michael Gove is Conservative MP for Surrey Heath and secretary of state for environment, food and rural affairs