We will consult on using the new freedoms we have [post Brexit] to establish a new, world-leading body to give the environment a voice and hold the powerful to account. It will be independent of government, able to speak its mind freely.
So announced Michael Gove, Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs on 13 November.
He went on to say that it will be placed on a statutory footing, ensuring it has clear authority. Its ambition will be to champion and uphold environmental standards, always rooted in rigorous scientific evidence.
Speak its mind
All this sounds good. Hang on though, there already is such a body. Natural England was set up in 2006 to give the environment a voice and to speak its mind freely. But as I wrote here, Natural England has been sucked into Defra, it is no longer allowed to champion environmental standards, or to have an independent voice.
Don’t bother to create a new body, Mr Gove, just unleash Natural England and let it be independent again with the resources it needs to do the job it was set up for.