Environment Bill: Villiers defends green watchdog plans after MPs’ criticism

Environment secretary Theresa Villiers has sought to allay fears that the government’s post-Brexit green watchdog lacks independence, as part of DEFRA’s response to parliamentary scrutiny of the Environment Bill.

Villiers has said that the Office for Environmental Protection (OEP), the body that would scrutinise the environmental performance of public bodies after Brexit, has been given extra safeguards on its independence in the newly published Environment Bill.

In a letter to Environmental Audit Committee chair Mary Creagh, she notes the bill includes “a new statutory obligation on the secretary of state, in exercising functions in respect of the OEP, to have regard to the need to protect the OEP’s independence”. 

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