IEMA’s new guiding principles for protecting and enhancing UK’s environment following withdrawal from Europe published today

The UK’s short-term focus must be on fully transposing the European Union’s “environmental acquis” into UK law to ensure continued environmental protection and provide much-needed post-Brexit certainty, says IEMA.

Experts at the sustainability body say there is an immediate challenge to incorporate all existing environmental law into the UK statute books before the Brexit deadline. Longer-term, the UK must take the “unprecedented opportunity to reshape the policy landscape” to deliver better environmental outcomes.

Professor Paul Leinster, Chair of IEMA’s Brexit Working Group and former Chief Executive of the Environment Agency, said full and effective transposition is an immediate priority for the UK: “Through many decades of concerted focus on protecting and improving the UK’s environment with domestic legislation based on the EU regulatory framework as a backbone, we’re no longer known as the dirty man of Europe. The progress achieved must be sustained as we leave the EU, and business must have certainty on the rules that will apply in this area. We believe that IEMA’s Core Principles for the Environment which were developed in conjunction with senior business environmental and sustainability leaders should guide the UK’s transposition of EU environmental law and set a framework for ongoing environmental policy development.”.

Leinster’s statement comes today, when IEMA publishes its Core Principles for the Environment – Brexit and Beyond, which provides a framework for the UK’s transposition of the EU “environmental acquis” – the portfolio of European environmental. The document outlines three overarching goals for environmental safeguarding outside of the EU:

1) Aim for high levels of environmental protection and improvement

2) Ensure full implementation of international environmental agreements that the UK and EU have signed up to

3) Ensure that sound science underpins the evidence base upon which decisions about the environment are made

The Core Principles also call for a “progressive approach to improvement”; specifically there must be full transposition of the EU environmental acquis into UK law; once transposed and in effect, there should be a systematic process of improvement with the aim of achieving better environmental outcomes in a way that minimises bureaucracy and administration and; an integrated approach to policy delivery should utilise a range of tools including regulation, permits, taxes, subsidies and market instruments to effect positive change. Regulation also needs to clearly identify the environmental outcomes to be achieved and the measures of success, with fully resourced enforcement to ensure a level playing field and finally, long-term policy consistency and certainty is needed to unlock business investment and support the transition to an environmentally sustainable economy.

The Principles also set out key Governance considerations on transparency, scrutiny and accountability and outlines eight underpinning principles which strengthen the UK’s policy approach – including the Precautionary Principle, Proximity Principle and the Polluter Pays Principle.

Martin Baxter, Chief Policy Advisor at IEMA, says that the intent behind the development and launch of the Core Principles is to set a policy framework that has global relevance beyond the immediate concerns around withdrawing from the EU: “This document is a real touchstone which will guide the urgent transposition of the environment acquis, but the principles have far wider policy relevance. We’ve sought input from Environment & Sustainability Professionals from around the globe who say the central themes around protecting and enhancing the environment are of paramount importance”.

Core Principles for the Environment – Brexit and Beyond is available for free download here.


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