Great Repeal Bill isn't enough to protect our environment

30 Mar 2017
it’s vital that the Great Repeal Bill brings over not just the laws, but the principles, which protect our environment.

With the environment left out of the UK’s Article 50 letter, it’s vital that the Great Repeal Bill brings over not just the laws, but the principles, which protect our environment warns Friends of the Earth as the Great Repeal Bill White Paper is put before parliament today (30 March).

The Great Repeal Bill “will ensure that the whole body of existing EU environmental law continues to have effect in UK law”. But when it comes to the environment, without a body put in place which can enforce these rules, there’s great concern that standards could slip.

The environmental charity is calling on the government to not only bring over EU environmental rules as part of the Great Repeal Bill but commit to the overarching principles which underpin the high environmental and wildlife standards that the UK currently enjoys such as the ‘precautionary principle’ and the principle that the ‘polluter pays’.

Samuel Lowe, Friends of the Earth campaigner, said:

“The Great Repeal Bill is necessary but on its own, it isn’t enough to protect nature and our environment. We must commit to bringing over the precautionary principles which underpin our high environmental and wildlife standards.

“The government must also create an independent body with teeth to make sure rules which protect nature and the environment are upheld. As the recent legal cases on air pollution have shown, the government does not always uphold its own laws without being pushed.

“More clarity is also needed regarding the scope of powers set to be granted to ministers. Whilst the government will need the power to adjust rules to make them work in UK law, they should not be able to change their purpose or meaning without proper scrutiny. Any substantive changes to these laws should be made by primary legislation only.

“The environment has been worryingly absent from the Brexit debate. Urgent issues like climate change, air pollution and destruction of the natural world cannot be dealt with by one country alone. This is why the UK government must prioritise continued cooperation with our closest neighbours on these shared problems.”

ENDS

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