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Brexit Must Not Jeopardise Environmental Law

Mar 30, 2017

Further information
Linda Farrow

The UK Environmental Law Association (UKELA) took a neutral stance on the EU Referendum but believes that it is imperative that the UK’s current environmental legislation is preserved pending proper review, full and open consultation on options for change and the involvement of Parliament as far as possible. This is critically important in order to ensure ongoing compliance with international law, regulatory stability and continued protection of the environment.

UKELA will be scrutinising the Great Repeal Bill carefully to ensure it provides an effective mechanism for the complete and orderly transfer of EU environmental law into UK domestic law. UKELA is also concerned to ensure that any changes proposed do not undermine the Government’s pledge to leave the environment in a better state than they found it upon taking office.


Yesterday’s Article 50 letter from the Prime Minister stated that the Great Repeal Bill “will, wherever practical and appropriate, in effect convert the body of existing European Union law (the “acquis”) into UK law”.


Commenting today, Andrew Bryce, solicitor and Co-chair of the UKELA Brexit Task Force, said “Each word in the Article 50 letter has no doubt been drafted with care. I trust that the qualifying phrase ‘wherever practical and appropriate’ will not provide an excuse to weaken our existing body of environmental law”.


UKELA remains concerned that too little attention is being given to the future of environmental regulation, notwithstanding its potential significance in trade and other contexts. These concerns include:


  • Whether adequate resources and effort are being applied to ensure the preservation of the full body of EU environmental regulation upon Brexit.
  • A lack of clarity on measures whereby the Government and regulators can be held to account in implementing and enforcing environmental law in the absence of EU institutions currently performing that role.
  • The limited extent of public debate so far on the full implications and importance of environmental protection following Brexit.
  • The absence of a strategy for how environmental standards will be set and revised in the absence of EU involvement.


Notes to the editors:

The UK Environmental Law Association aims to promote better law for the environment and to improve understanding and awareness of environmental law. UKELA’s members are involved in the practice, study or formulation of environmental law in the UK and the European Union. It attracts both lawyers and non-lawyers and has a broad membership from the private and public sectors.


UKELA prepares advice to government with the help of its specialist working parties, covering a range of environmental law topics.

UKELA’s Brexit Task Force was established in September 2016. Andrew Bryce and Professor Richard Macrory are its Co-Chairs. The Task Force’s role is “To advise UKELA’s Trustees from time to time on all matters relating to and arising from the UK’s decision to leave the European Union (‘Brexit’) insofar as this impacts environmental law, practice and enforcement in the UK.”

For further information on UKELA’s work, please visit: www.ukela.org. We have a section on the website dedicated to Brexit.


For specific press and media queries in relation to this news release, please contact: Andrew Bryce (andrew@ehslaw.co.uk) and Richard Macrory (richard.macrory@gmail.com), Co-Chairs of UKELA’s Brexit Task Force or UKELA’s Executive Director, Linda Farrow (linda@ukela.org).


UK Environmental Law Association - Better law for the environment
Registered charity 299498; company registered in England number 2133283
Registered office: One Glass Wharf, Bristol, BS2 0ZX


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