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The State of UK Environmental Legislation in 2011– is there a case for reform?

Aug 25, 2011

Further information
Vicki Elcoate

A new research project investigating problems with the quality of environmental legislation throughout the UK was opened yesterday for consultation.

The interim report for this project – published jointly by the UK Environmental Law Association (UKELA) and King’s College London – asks if there are any identifiable problems with the quality of UK environmental legislation, focusing on issues of legislative coherence, integration and transparency. Considering the breadth of environmental law, the project focuses on legislation relating to waste, environmental permitting, environmental and habitats assessment (and their interaction with planning law), and the regulation of water quality and resources.

The project considers the systems and procedures for scrutinising environmental legislation within government, and drafting practices. It also analyses particular issues of legislative quality in relation to environmental law across all UK administrations (England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland).

The interim report explores avenues for potential reform of any legislative problems that might be found, focusing in particular on the potential role of environmental principles in UK environmental legislation, and on reforming existing drafting practices and models of legislative scrutiny within UK governments and parliaments.

Initial findings indicate a range of areas where environmental legislation is so complex that it is difficult to access, understand and apply. It also highlights examples – such as the Environmental Permitting Regulations in England and Wales – where attempts to make legislative schemes simpler have been generally welcomed.

The report also asks if more radical suggestions – such as setting up an Environmental Law Commission to oversee the quality of new environmental legislation – are good ideas and worthy of further research.

The current consultation is open to members of UKELA and all UKELA working parties (until mid September). It aims to collect the views of UK environmental lawyers and users from a range of backgrounds and perspectives – from industry, practice, and private individuals, to government, NGOs and academics. Anyone interested in contributing to the project’s consultation should do so through their UKELA membership or working party representative (see http://www.ukela.org/rte.asp?id=17).

The report is available here: http://www.ukela.org/rte.asp?id=43. The Executive Summary and conclusions are also available separately from the main body of the report.

The report has been prepared as a partnership project between the UK Environmental Law Association and King’s College London (King’s contact: Dr Eloise Scotford).

UK Environmental Law Association - Better law for the environment
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