Response to the Repeal Bill White Paper

Commenting on the Government’s Repeal Bill White Paper – released on 30 March 2017 and which proposes how the body of law derived from our membership in the European Union will be reflected in UK laws –, The Wildlife Trusts’ Chief Executive Stephanie Hilborne OBE said:

“Most of the laws that protect our wildlife and environment are currently tied to our membership of the European Union. The table below shows the massive impact Brexit could have on how we protect our wildlife. It is therefore good news that the Government’s intent in the Repeal Bill White Paper is to retain all existing environmental laws derived from the European Union. These laws have helped transform the state of our rivers, seas and other special wild places cherished by people across the nation – securing this body of law will be an important first step.

"Now the key challenge is to make sure the legislation retains its power, and to avoid a ‘decaf’ UK-version. We will be pressing for the UK to enact key principles which currently apply to EU law and that are of critical value to wildlife. This includes both the ‘Precautionary Principle’ (where if in doubt about the impact on wildlife of a new development or new pesticide we don’t proceed) and making sure the ‘Polluter Pays’ (for example if a factory releases a toxic chemical into a river the responsibility to clean this up should lie with that factory not the taxpayer).

Now the key challenge is to make sure the legislation retains its power, and to avoid a ‘decaf’ UK-version

"It will also be vital that we have the right mechanisms in place to enforce these laws upon leaving the EU. In the absence of the European Commission and the European Court of Justice, the UK will need new accountability mechanisms and highly effective regulators. Unless we do this it is inevitable that short-term financial gain will trump the long term common good of our nation and future generations.

"We believe that the people of our islands deserve a world-class environment: clean air, clear water, a stable climate, healthy seas and thriving wildlife in the places we love. Those seeking to weaken our environmental laws must not succeed.

"Ultimately we will need an ambitious Environment Act to make sure we don't lose any gains made from our existing wildlife laws and set nature on a path to recovery.”

Read more about the impact of Brexit on wildlife and The Wildlife Trusts' work:

Laws affected by Brexit by Policy Area