Category Archives: Brexit

We need to worry about what Theresa May’s speech means for our environment

Ruth's blog smallIn her Mansion House speech in March 2017 the prime minister said “As we leave the EU we will uphold environmental standards and go further to protect our shared natural heritage”. But her speech yesterday appears to ignore the government’s commitments to improve and not just maintain standards.

On the face of it the commitment that “there will be no change in the level of environmental protection when we leave the EU” should be reassuring as the government has repeatedly said that standards will not be weakened by Brexit. But no change infers no improvement which, when facing an environmental crisis, seems very wide of the mark. Read more

Could Theresa May be remembered for anything other than Brexit?

Theresa May smallLegacy is “planting seeds in a garden you never get to see” rapped one of America’s founding fathers on the day of his death, at least according to the musical Hamilton. Thoughts of legacy are likely to start rising up the UK political agenda over the coming weeks as the big question in Westminster becomes who will replace Theresa May? Candidates are already publicly throwing their hats into the ring, with interventions, speeches and candid pictures in kitchens aplenty. Some of these interventions have rightly identified climate and environment issues as vital to the future of the Conservative party. But will Theresa May be remembered for anything other than Brexit? Read more

How the UK measures up in environmental league tables

meandering river smallThis post is by Alistair Taylor, senior policy officer at the RSPB.

You could have been forgiven for failing to notice that, on 5 April this year, a set of reports were published by the European Commission on how European Countries are performing on their environmental policies and laws. The Environment Implementation Review (EIR) reports are available for each of the 28 member states of the EU (currently including the UK). Read more

Beyond the no deal panic, we need full scrutiny of Brexit legislation

SI smallThis post is by Libby Peake, senior policy adviser at Green Alliance, and Ruth Chambers, senior parliamentary associate for Greener UK

Now the EU has granted a Brexit ‘flextension’ until the end of October, the immediate threat of no deal has subsided. In fact, the government has stood down the ‘army’ of 6,000 civil servants preparing for that contingency. But this wasn’t the only preparation being undertaken: many of the 10,000 other civil servants working on Brexit had been creating the torrent of regulations required to bring European laws into the UK legal framework. This process, comprising 10,091 pages of technical legislation (a quarter of which came from Defra), is now largely complete. So, given the breathing space, it’s timely to take stock of where this process has got to. Read more

Brexit legislation unravelling protections for UK marine life and fisheries

pipes smallThis post is by Sarah Denman, an environmental lawyer at ClientEarth

Whilst the Brexit drama plays out in parliament, the leaving process is being managed behind the scenes. As part of the UK’s withdrawal from the EU, the UK government has had to produce a large number of SIs (or statutory instruments) to convert the existing body of EU law into our domestic statute book and make it fit for purpose. Read more

Businesses need a better Environment Bill

canoe smallThis post is by Daniel Johns, head of public affairs, Anglian Water Services Ltd. It was first posted on Business Green.

We now have both the EFRA and the EAC select committee reports on the draft Environment (Principles and Governance) Bill. Both find critical weaknesses in the proposed protections for the environment outside of the structures of the European Union.  On this issue environmental organisations, parliamentarians and a range of leading business voices are entirely aligned. Read more

In a Brexit compromise, MPs must consider what’s best for the environment

no deal smallThe prime minister’s announcement that she will work with the opposition to try to reach a compromise on Brexit is very welcome. Both sides need to be flexible. And when MPs get to vote again, they must show a greater willingness to compromise.

Brexit means Brexit, but we still do not know what Brexit means. If we are to find out, MPs must stop asking themselves, ‘what is the best outcome from my point of view?’ and ask instead, ‘what outcomes can I live with?’ Look down the list of how MPs voted on Monday and you will see some of the brightest and best from all parties, including some who care deeply about the environment, who made the best the enemy of the not-wholly-unacceptable. And the not-wholly-unacceptable is probably the best most of us can hope for now, given the pickle we are in. Read more

How Brexit is already watering down environmental protections

This post is by Libby Peake, senior policy adviser at Green Alliance, and Ruth Chambers, senior parliamentary associate for Greener UK. It was first posted on Business Green.

Hidden amongst the dramatic politics of Brexit, a little noticed but nonetheless highly significant process has been unfolding: the transfer of 12,000 pieces of EU law into our domestic statute book. This has great significance for the environment as 80 per cent of environmental laws come from the EU. While the process is intended to ensure a smooth Brexit through the technical transfer of laws, the pace at which it has been done, as well as the challenge of faithfully replicating European laws at a domestic level, have meant this process has been far from straightforward. Read more

Time is running out for Wales to protect its environment after Brexit

brecon beacons smallThis post is by Sarah Graham of WWF Cymru.

With 22 days until we leave the European Union, the Welsh government’s plans for how it intends to retain and improve environmental protections remain a mystery. Unlike its counterparts in England and Scotland, it has not published any consultation proposals or draft legislation. Leaving the EU without these plans in place could have very damaging implications for people and nature. Read more

The government must not be allowed to mark its own homework on environmental standards

big ben smallThis post is by Lord Robin Teverson, chair of the House of Lords EU Energy and Environment Sub-Committee. 

Back in February 2017, our committee published the report of its inquiry on Brexit, the environment and climate change. While covering a wide range of issues, one of the key findings was the vital role that the European Commission and the Court of Justice of the European Union play in ensuring that member states (including the UK) comply with environmental legislation. We heard evidence that the effectiveness of EU regulation was due, in part, to the deterrent effect of the power of EU institutions to hold member states to account and to levy fines upon them for non-compliance. From recycling targets, to air quality plans, to nature conservation, we heard that the threat of EU infraction had shaped the UK’s environmental policy. Read more

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