The UK Parliament’s EU Energy and Environment Sub-Committee has published its report which highlights key actions that will be needed to ensure environmental protections are not eroded as a result of Brexit.
The Sub-Committee explained that the EU is the source of the majority of environmental legislation in the UK, and the UK's work to combat climate change is mostly conducted in conjunction with the EU.
As a result, the UK's withdrawal from the EU will have a significant impact on environment and climate change policies in the UK and the means by which they are enacted. Furthermore, the Committie noted that the UK's environment will remain inextricably linked to that of Europe after Brexit, so the UK and EU will continue to be affected by one another’s climate and environment policies.
The report concluded that one of the key challenges in this area will be that of effectively maintaining environmental protection through the Great Repeal Bill, given the complex and extensive nature of environmental legislation.
The Committee also identified a risk of a vacuum once the European Commission and Court of Justice of the European Union no longer have a role in the oversight and enforcement of environment legislation, given the significant impact those institutions have had on the UK's compliance in the past.
The Committee further noted that the UK may wish to coordinate environmental standards with the EU in the future, to both enable trade and ensure the effective protection of the natural environment. The Committee also concluded that the UK should explore diplomatic avenues to maintain its influence in climate negotiations post-Brexit.
Key areas considered include:
- The Great Repeal Bill and its implications for environment legislation
- How environment law will be enforced after Brexit
- The extent to which the UK’s trading relationship with the EU will affect its environmental standards
- The need to align and co-ordinate policy to manage the shared European environment effectively
- The means by which the UK can preserve its role as a global leader on climate change action
- The resources that will be required to maintain environment protection after Brexit
- The implications of devolution for environment and climate change policy
- Welcomed by the Waste Industry
The report and its findings have been welcomed by industry body, the Chartered Institution of Wastes Management (CIWM) for clearly setting out the wide range of difficult issues which Government, Parliament and society as a whole will need to discuss and agree to enable a smooth Brexit for the environment.
“It is clear that not only what our environmental framework is post-Brexit matters, but also how it is enforced,” commented CIWM chief executive, Dr Church. “This report describes a number of the issues that need to be tackled to ensure we maintain and, where possible, improve our environmental standards.”
“The idea of an independent body to oversee effective enforcement is a good one that should be developed further,” he concluded.
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