Rural land managers have warned that to deliver for the environment successfully, any new 'green watchdog' must not add extra complexity to already confusing environmental rules post-Brexit.

The Country Land and Business Association (CLA), which represents landowners, farmers and rural businesses, made the comments in a Defra consultation on environmental principles and governance after the UK leaves the EU.

In its response, the CLA said it supports the Government’s "strong environmental ambitions" and the idea of a green watchdog with "enough bite" to hold the Government to account.

However, the organisation warns that a new oversight body must not overlap with any existing green powers so that continued protection of the environment is not damaged through Brexit and beyond.

Green watchdog

CLA director of policy and advice, Christopher Price, said: “We are not against a green watchdog in principle as long as it scrutinises and penalises the Government sufficiently so that environmental targets are met.

We are, however, concerned it could mean significant cost, complexity and bureaucracy which would damage the better delivery of environmental policy by focussing on process instead of achieving outcomes.

Price added that existing EU environment laws and support must be maintained post-Brexit.

“The UK has some of the highest environmental standards and principles in the world which land managers are rightly proud of.

"It is vital these are transferred into domestic law to ensure they are maintained and adequately funded through Brexit and beyond.

“We have called on the Government to look at how the voices of land managers, environmental policy experts and members of the public will be involved in future consultations to ensure strong protection and cost-effective delivery," he said.