MPs right to call for post-Brexit certainty on environmental laws

04 January 2017

Landowners have backed calls by MPs for certainty on the status of environmental laws currently set and enforced by the EU post-Brexit.

However, the CLA which represents landowners, farmers and rural businesses has stopped short of backing the concept of a new ‘Environment Protection Act’ to be in place before the Government triggers the Article 50 Brexit process.

In a report published today (4 January) the Environmental Audit Committee has warned about the risks of ‘zombie legislation’ created by a partial transposition of environmental rules from EU into UK law, under the Government’s planned Great Repeal Bill. The report also focuses on the problems of uncertainty on future funding models for supporting farmers and wider environmental practices.

CLA Director of Policy and Advice Christopher Price said: “Improving and enhancing our environment, from soil and water quality to managing wildlife habitats and nurturing biodiversity, has to remain a priority for us all through Brexit and beyond. We welcome this report that shines a light on the risks and complexities that have to be managed through the process of extricating the UK from EU agricultural and environmental law.

“We agree with the sentiment behind the Committee’s call for a new Environmental Protection Act. They are right to call for post-Brexit certainty on environmental laws, but we are not convinced it is necessary to create new legislation, other than the Great Repeal Bill, or for it to be rushed through in the timeframes the Committee sets out. The Government should transpose existing EU commitments into UK law then decide what needs to change rather than creating more confusion. It is important we take the time necessary to get post-Brexit environmental policy right.

“Brexit creates an opportunity for governments in England and Wales to adopt a new Food, Farming and Environment Policy that delivers innovative approaches to promoting and protecting our environment, and doing so while supporting a resilient and productive farming sector."