Brexit threat to environmental standards higher than ever

30th September 2019

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  • UK government


Timothy McLoughlin

Environmental standards in the UK are under greater threat now than at any point since the Brexit process began three years ago, new analysis has found.

Greener UK's latest Brexit Risk Tracker warns of harmful stockpiles of waste, lower chemical safety and threats to sustainable fishing in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

It also expresses “serious concerns“ for nature protection and food quality should farmers be forced to compete with low-quality imports.

Greener UK said that the government appears set on moving away from the EU's relatively strong rules and regulations, and has provided little detail on what the future framework will look like.

“Ministers once promised a 'green Brexit', but it is hard to remember a point over the past three years when the environment felt more under threat,“ Greener UK chair, Shaun Spiers, said.

“The government must now spell out why it wants the freedom to move away from the high environmental standards we currently enjoy. Rhetorical commitments to 'world-class' policies are not enough.

Greener UK is a coalition of 14 major environmental organisations, and nearly 50 others have agreed to align their activities with the group where appropriate, including sustainability body IEMA.

The latest analysis warns that the Brexit threat to environmental standards is compounded by support for a deregulatory agenda in government and plans for a quick trade deal with the US.

And despite improvements to the draft Environment Bill, the government has yet to bring forward the full bill.

This has hampered the country's response to the environmental crisis, delayed debates, and left an “alarming“ enforcement gap for green standards after Brexit, according to the analysis.

It also warns that a lack of government progress in enacting the agriculture and fisheries bills has undermined efforts to address significant nature declines in the UK.

“Without firm commitments rooted in law, we have to be concerned about weaker standards, for food, chemicals and nature protection,“ Spiers continued.

“We know that Boris Johnson cares personally about the environment. He now needs to set out unequivocally how he intends to protect it and the standards we have built over 40 years.“

Image credit: ©iStock


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