Gove accused of shelving green strategy
A 25-year government plan for the environment was promised in 2015, delayed until this year but might not now appear during 2017, according to government sources.
Gove’s appointment as environment secretary would mean a retreat on protections, with Brexit providing the perfect distraction, it was feared.
The opposition Labour Party claimed the government’s failure to publish the plan was due to the state of “chaos and disarray” following enfeebled Prime Minister Theresa May’s failed election gamble, and her need to bring Gove back in to shore up her leadership.
May’s woes in Brussels continue.
Her offer on residency rights for EU citizens in the UK was branded “a first step, but not sufficient” by the president of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker.
May told EU leaders that no matter what was agreed on the cut-off date, there would be no “cliff edge” day for any EU citizen living lawfully in the UK.
Everyone would be given a two-year “grace period” to “regularise their status under new laws”, the humiliated prime minister said.
On Gove, Labour’s environment spokeswoman Sue Hayman branded Gove’s delay “unacceptable”. “This news does very little to allay concerns about Gove’s environmental credentials and suitability for the [ministerial] role.”
The Liberal Democrats’ environment chief Kate Parminter said: “With Michael Gove at the helm, we risk seeing any future environment strategy watered down and vital EU protections for our wildlife, habitats and air quality slashed after Brexit.”
Greenpeace called on Gove to publish the plan, while the Green Alliance said there was now an “urgent” need for it.
A spokesperson for Gove said there was no “timeframe” for the 25-year plan.
London is facing legal action for its slow response to enforcing EU regulations on air pollution in the UK, which is said to be causing thousands of early deaths in London alone.
In 2015 the Conservatives pledged to reverse the trend towards ever more destruction with a bold environmental commitment to tackle land, water and air pollution, preserve wildlife and reduce flooding.
Gove is now apparently keen to put his personal stamp on the document.
He has criticised the European Union’s habitats directive, designed to protect rare and endangered species, arguing it “massively increases the cost” of housing.
The Brexit campaigner tried unsuccessfully to remove climate change from the geography curriculum when he was education secretary and has blamed EU fisheries policies for ruining his family’s fishing business in Scotland.
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