Following the triggering of Article 50 and the publication of the Great Repeal Bill, CIWM has said that UK environmental policy must not be eroded post-Brexit or sacrificed in trade deal negotiations.
CIWM chief executive Colin Church (pictured) said: “The Government has repeatedly committed itself to ‘leaving the environment in a better state than we found it’. This will require ambition, a robust policy framework, and an understanding of the key role that regulation plays both in safeguarding environmental protection standards and promoting and supporting innovation and resource efficiency in all its forms.
“It is a commitment that must be observed both in the Brexit negotiations and as we convert EU law into UK law through the Great Repeal Bill. It does not mean a ‘bonfire’ of the essential protections that the UK has helped to develop and put in place as an EU Member. Instead, it means Government working closely with the relevant sectors and organisations to ensure that UK environmental policy evolves into an even better and more effective framework.
“As the Great Repeal Bill White Paper notes, there is a lot of work to be done to ensure the transition is smooth. There is a degree of reassurance to be had from the White Paper that the Government recognises the need to maintain a balance between scrutiny and speed. It also provides clarity that the scope of the powers being conferred through the Bill are limited to the task of conversion, not substantive amendment to the legislation.
“Elements that are particularly welcome include the provisions on the continuity of CJEU Case Law, which is so important to the interpretation of UK waste law, and the acknowledgement of the need to observe the intent behind the legislation as set out in the relevant treaties, which for our sector includes the ‘precautionary principle’ and the ‘polluter pays’ principle. The commitment to delivering an approach that works across UK is also welcome and, given that environment policy is a devolved responsibility, we look forward to further clarity on how this might be achieved.
“A number of significant questions remain unanswered, however, including the status of European Commission guidance designed to assist in the interpretation of legislation and the question of enforcement and especially what mechanism will replace the role of the CJEU and the Commission in this respect. Just last month, the House of Lords EU Energy and Environment Sub-Committee warned of an impending ‘vacuum’ in the enforcement of environmental law as the UK leaves the EU and the Government must not duck this issue.”