Brexit: Environmental standards at risk

1st June 2020

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Abdulhakem Alhajji

Environmental standards in the UK are at risk of becoming outdated because the government has removed review and revision clauses from retained EU laws since Brexit. This is according to a new report from the academic network Brexit & Environment.

After studying various 'retained' environmental EU laws, the researchers found that technical clauses to review and revise legislation had been removed for two-thirds of the laws via statutory instrument. This change, made at “relatively great speed“ and “with little democratic scrutiny“ has, the report's authors argue, escaped the attention of many observers, including parliamentarians.

Environmental aspects of the regulatory 'level playing field' have emerged as a key sticking point during negotiating over the future trading relationship between the UK and EU.

There are around 500 separate items of EU environmental law and policy, and if these are not fully retained after Brexit, the researchers said it will produce a “massive gap“ in UK environmental policy protection. They urged the government to insert review and revision clauses that are stronger than the originals, and to grant the Office for Environmental Protection stronger powers to oversee and report on the status of retained EU law.


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