Government must balance continuity with chance to replace burdensome EU rural regulations, says CLA

06 September 2016

Government should avoid chaos and disruption by balancing the need for regulatory continuity with the opportunity to change specific EU regulations which work poorly for UK rural businesses, consumers and the countryside, says the CLA.

Along with Scottish Land & Estates, the CLA has published a new briefing paper on the EU regulations that affect rural businesses and land management. The paper underlines the importance of certainty and continuity of the majority of the regulatory framework, while also identifying a number of regulations which work poorly for the UK and should be replaced at the point of Brexit.

These include the three crop rule for farmers, plant protection product licensing and the one-size-fits-all approach to energy performance certificates. The new paper sets out how these regulations can be replaced with domestic alternatives that cut unnecessary red tape while delivering better outcomes for the rural economy and the environment.

CLA President Ross Murray said: “Leaving the EU creates a clear opportunity to tackle the worst of the regulations established in Brussels that are holding back growth in the rural economy and environmental improvements in the UK.

“The chance to improve regulations that have been imposed by the EU to tackle problems elsewhere in Europe was a key factor in the rural vote for Brexit. We are looking to the Government to work with us in making the most of this opportunity for better outcomes both for rural businesses and the environment.

“While Government should take these opportunities for swift improvement, it must avoid chaos and disruption by providing certainty about the regulatory framework as a whole. In addition, the UK will still be bound by commitments to agreements such as the Bern Convention, and to trade within the single market we need to comply with the rules that underpin it.”

The CLA is proposing that Government establishes a legal backstop to ensure any EU law that has not been specifically altered or removed by the point of Brexit is automatically transferred into domestic law.

Mr Murray continued: “In many areas the UK has led the EU towards better standards and the current regulations rural businesses work under should be maintained, pending longer-term review after Brexit has taken place. However there are some clear opportunities for early improvements and we ask Government to ensure priority ‘quick win’ changes are ready to be put in place at the point of Brexit.”

The CLA has identified four priorities where replacing existing regulations could deliver better outcomes and reduce red tape:

  • UK Food, Farming and Environmental policy: three crop rule – in developing a new policy to succeed the Common Agricultural Policy, the ‘three crop rule’ is a priority for change
  • Plant protection products: licensing – introducing a transparent and less politicised process for licensing crop protection products such as glyphosate
  • Water management: nitrates – replacing prescriptive rules with evidence-based regulations which reduce water pollution and also lessen the red tape burden
  • Buildings: energy performance certificates – replacing the one-size-fits-all approach to encourage the right types of investment in energy efficiency for traditional rural properties

The CLA is running the CLA New Opportunities campaign to ensure that farming, the rural economy and the environment are treated as priorities by Government as the UK prepares for Brexit.

New Opportunities: better outcomes and reduced burdens in a new regulatory framework’ can be found here.