Concerns over clarity of UK environment law

31st August 2011

Devolution and the implementation of EU legislation are contributing to a lack of coherence in UK environmental legislation, according to the UK Environmental Law Association (UKLEA).

In releasing the initial findings of research into the quality of the UK’s environment laws, the UKLEA and King’s College London reveal a series of concerns over the effectiveness and cohesion of legislation, including confusion over an agreed definition of waste following EU directives and the overlap of regimes for environmental assessment, permitting and planning.

Other issues raised include the differences in regulatory requirements between the devolved governments in areas like hazardous waste, and the difficulty in understanding the patchwork of amendments, guidance and directions that implement some EU directives.

On a more positive note, the legal practitioners, academics and stakeholders, interviewed for the research generally welcome developments to condense and simplify legislation, particularly recent changes to the Environmental Permitting Regulations in England and Wales and the Water Environment (Controlled Activities) Regulations in Scotland.

The interim report suggests the creation of an environmental law commission with responsibility for developing proposals for new regulation, testing how new laws would work alongside existing legislation and evaluating how well regulatory regimes are working, could help to drive better transparency and integration across UK environmental law.

The release of the report coincides with the launch of a consultation exercise asking UKELA members for their opinions on the validity of its research and suggestions to improve environmental legislation in the UK.

To read the report in full or to respond to the consultation visit the UKLEA website.


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