MICHAEL Gove will today step out in front of the World Wildlife Fund’s Living Planet Centre in Woking and promise to deliver a “green Brexit”.

He will pledge to set global gold standards on policies ranging from pesticides to wildlife protection and animal welfare.

In his first major speech since replacing fellow Brexiteer Andrea Leadsom in Prime Minister Theresa May’s June Cabinet reshuffle, he will say that leaving the European Union provides a “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity” to reform farming, fisheries and land management.

Loading article content

His speech comes a day after farming minister George Eustice said Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland will have the “opportunity” for more control over their farming and fishing post-Brexit, albeit within a UK-wide structure.

He told MPs “some kind of UK framework” will be needed to protect the “integrity” of the UK single market.

Mr Gove will tell an audience of environmental and countryside organisations that Brexit gives scope for Britain to be a global leader in green policy.

Many of the laws on the environment currently come from Brussels, from agricultural policy and farming subsidies, to air pollution limits, bathing water quality, wildlife protection and climate action such as energy efficiency standards.

Environmentalists have raised fears over the fate of EU regulation on the environment, amid calls in some quarters to cut “red tape” on everything from energy efficiency to protecting habitats.

They have warned that process of transferring rules to UK law must not weaken them, but Mr Gove will move to reassure them Brexit will be a force for good – a similar message to that given to farmers by the Secretary of State on his visit to the Great Yorkshire Show last week.

He used his trip to Harrogate to stress the post5-Brexit opportunity for trade and today will say: “Leaving the EU gives us a once in a lifetime opportunity to reform how we manage agriculture and fisheries, how we care for our land, our rivers and our seas, how we recast our ambition for our country’s environment, and the planet.

“In short, it means delivering a green Brexit.”

Mr Gove will acknowledge the damage done to the UK and global environment in the past.

“In recent decades we have lost green space, cut down trees, sacrificed meadow and heath land, polluted our earth, air and water, placed species in danger and run down the renewable resources - from fish to soil - on which our future depends.

“And at the same time, across the globe, we’ve seen climate change threaten both fragile natural habitats and developing human societies, we’ve allowed extractive and exploitative political systems to lay waste to natural resources and we’ve placed species of plants and animals in new and mortal danger while gambling with the future health of the whole world.”

He will describe himself as an environmentalist because he cares about his fellow animals, draws inspiration from nature and finds its beauty important – but also because of “hard calculation” of the need to protect the natural world or face disaster.

And he will say that Brexit will mean taking back control of environmental policy.

“We now have an historic opportunity to review our policies on agriculture, land use, biodiversity, woodlands, marine conservation, fisheries, pesticide licensing, chemical regulation, animal welfare, habitat management, waste, water purity, air quality and so much more.”

Shortly after his appointment, the National Farmers’ Union wrote an open letter to Mr Gove, urging his department to champion farming within the Government, and reminding him that the industry will be arguably the sector affected most by Brexit. Whether or not farming leaders will be heartened by today’s speech remains to be seen.

He will say: “Informed by rigorous scientific analysis, we can develop global gold standard policies on pesticides and chemicals, habitat management and biodiversity, animal welfare and biosecurity, soil protection and river management and so many other areas.”

Mr Gove will also say that a “Government of global Britain” should not just lead on security or trade but also champion sustainable development, be a leader in environmental science and an innovator in clean, green growth.

And he will add that it should uphold its pledge to hand over the environment to the next generation in a better condition than it is now.