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Environmental coalition issues warning over Great Repeal Bill as Brexit negotiations begin

Environmental coalition Greener UK has stressed the need for any future repeal bill to ensure existing environmental laws remain in place.

Greener UK, which is supported by 13 UK-based green groups such as WWF, Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth, has stressed the need for the UK to ensure all current environmental laws and principles are transposed as the UK begins the process to leave the European Union.

Brexit negotiations formally commenced today (19 June) and are expected to feature prominently during the Queen’s speech, which will open parliament on Wednesday (21 June).

While Brexit negotiations are expected to take place over the coming 18 months, the government is to process a so-called ‘Great Repeal Bill’ which will repeal the 1972 European Communities Act. That Act saw that European law took precedence over British law.

The Great Repeal Bill will formally repeal the Act, but will see all existing EU legislation transposed into domestic UK law before opening up the parliament to amend or repeal individual laws as it sees fit.

Greener UK has today issued three key tests for the bill to meet if the UK is to continue its lead on environmental matters, including;

  • A full transposition of EU environmental laws and principles, which make up an estimated 80% of UK environmental policy,
  • Retain domestic environmental protections and allow no opportunity for gaps to open without full parliamentary scrutiny,
  • And assure that the law is properly implemented and enforced, with the creation of new environmental governance regulations to replace current EU institutions.

Shaun Spiers, chairman at Greener UK, said: “The government rightly aspires for the UK to be a world leader on the environment, and the Greener UK coalition is ready and willing to play our part in making that a reality.

“The first step during this parliament will be the Repeal Bill, which must deliver the continued high level of environmental protection that the people of these islands deserve, with a watertight process for converting EU law into domestic law.”