Joan Edwards, Head of Living Seas at The Wildlife Trusts, said:
“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. Most of the laws that protect our wildlife and environment are tied to our membership of the European Union. This includes our strongest protection for special wildlife sites and effective regulations on pollution of our seas and rivers. So leaving the EU could have far-reaching implications for our wildlife and all the positive impacts a healthy natural environment has on all our lives.
“We are therefore working hard to ensure that the UK’s departure from the EU results not in a lowering of current protections and standards, but a brighter future for the UK’s natural environment and future generations. An important step in making this happen is making sure that the UK Government’s promised ‘Repeal Bill’ brings over the whole body of EU environment law.
“But these laws will only be as effective as the institutions and mechanisms to implement and enforce them, and the Bill’s White Paper did not make it clear what domestic governance arrangements will replace those currently provided by the EU. The UK Government will urgently need to clarify this, which is why we will be looking to the Repeal Bill to provide certainty; including through amendments to the Bill where necessary. We’re therefor delighted that there are already a number of MPs across the parties that support us on this.”
• The Greener UK coalition formed in response to the EU referendum, united in the belief that leaving the EU is a pivotal moment to restore and enhance the UK’s environment. It brings together 13 major environmental organisations, including The Wildlife Trusts, RSPB, National Trust, and WWF.
• The UK Government has proposed a ‘Great Repeal Bill’ to help ensure that there is still a functioning statute book once the UK has left the EU. With an estimated 80 percent of UK environmental policies being shaped by EU law, and given the UK Government’s aspiration for the UK to lead the world in environmental protection and leave the environment in a better condition than it inherited it, The Wildlife Trusts believe that the Repeal Bill must:
1. Bring over the whole body of EU environmental law and related laws required to be coherent with environmental law, including the relevant parts of the Common Agricultural Policy, Common Fisheries Policy and energy policy. This means converting all existing EU environmental law and ensuring that domestic laws made through secondary legislation to implement EU obligations are saved.
2. Ensure that there is no opportunity for gaps in domestic environmental protections to open up without full parliamentary scrutiny.
3. Make sure the law is properly implemented and enforced. This means introducing new domestic governance arrangements to ensure equivalent provision of the regulatory, monitoring, oversight, accountability, enforcement and other functions currently provided by EU institutions.
See additional information in the attached briefing.