One third of EU environmental law hard to transfer

27th October 2016

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James Brocklehurst

Around one third of EU environmental laws will be difficult to transfer directly into UK law and will need new legislation or mechanisms to implement them, according to environment secretary Andrea Leadsom.

Giving evidence to the inquiry by the House of Commons’ Environmental Audit Committee on the impact of Brexit, Leadsom said the environment department (Defra) had been analysing ‘line by line’ how to bring EU environmental legislation into UK law through the Great Repeal Bill.

Around two-thirds of EU law would be ‘relatively easy’ to transfer, she said. The remainder would be more difficult, since new laws or mechanisms would be needed to implement the various pieces of legislation.

Leadsom refused to be drawn on which laws would come into this category, saying that work was continuing. But she added that some laws would, in effect, repatriate work that is currently done by the EU, such as monitoring. Defra was assessing the resource implications of this.

Leadsom said she did not support the idea of adding a sunset clause to the repeal bill to automatically scrap EU laws that had not been transferred within five years of leaving the bloc. The idea was proposed by minister for international development Grant Shapps. In an article for The Times, Shapps wrote that the repeal bill was more of a ‘great continuity bill’.

He wrote: ‘While it isn’t practical for parliament to debate every clause of EU legislation before we leave, a five-year sunset would allow MPs to scrutinise former EU law, removing job-destroying clauses before the sunset.’

But Leadsom said now she wanted to see legislation brought into UK law through the repeal bill, after which it could be changed, repealed or strengthened ‘at our leisure’.

Leadsom also rejected the idea that the UK would need a specific environmental court to enforce the law when Britain breaks it ties with the European Court of Justice.


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