Mountains reflected in a lake with trees and a white house on the lake edge

House of Lords warning over Brexit and environmental laws

A committee of the House of Lords has said that leaving the EU will have a significant impact on environment and climate change policies in the UK.

In a report ‘Brexit: environment and climate change’ published today, the committee has found that maintaining existing standards of environmental protection through the Great Repeal Bill will be an immensely difficult task, given the complex and extensive nature of environmental legislation.

ClientEarth biodiversity lawyer Catherine Weller said:

“The House of Lords has confirmed the immense risk to the UK environment posed by Brexit. Maintaining existing standards through the Great Repeal Bill will be a hugely complex task.”

“As a first step, the government must enshrine current environmental protections in law – we’ll be watching closely to ensure that they do this and they don’t sneak in a way to undo these protections overnight.”

The report also found that ‘a risk of a vacuum’ may exist once the EU institutions (the European Commission and European Court of Justice) no longer have oversight or enforcement of environmental laws.

These institutions have had a major impact on the UK’s compliance in the past. The government seems to be worryingly complacent about the loss of this enforcement regime. As such, the committee has recommended that an independent enforcement mechanism will be needed to fill this vacuum.

Weller added:

“The Lords rightly highlighted the danger of a lack of oversight and enforcement once the UK leaves the EU. We agree that a strong, independent domestic mechanism is crucial to make sure effective environmental laws are made and followed.”

“This mechanism must be underpinned by judicial oversight. People must be able to go to court to defend the environment. This is the only way to make sure the environmental gains of the last 40 years are not lost – the best way to protect people and the planet.”

The EU is the source of the majority of environmental legislation in the UK. This means that leaving the EU will have a significant impact on environment and climate change policies in the UK.

ClientEarth will continue to fight for strong environmental laws after the UK leaves the European Union.

Share this...
Share on Facebook! Tweet this! Share on LinkedIn! Email!

Jim Monk

Related articles

More from or

  • pygmy owl

    EU Court urged to immediately halt illegal logging in Bialowieza Forest

    The European Commission has today referred a complaint about ongoing illegal logging in Poland’s Białowieża Forest to the EU Court. The Court has also been urged to impose an immediate ban on cutting trees in the ancient forest, one of the most precious in the world, until the judgment is issued.

  • woodland

    European Parliament has a chance to end pesticide use in areas set aside for wildlife

    ClientEarth is urging MEPs to vote to stop the use of harmful pesticides in Ecological Focus Areas (EFAs).

  • man looking at tree for story saying UN and EU pile pressure on Polish government over illegal logging in Bialowieza forest

    UNESCO and EU pile pressure on Polish government over illegal logging in Bialowieza forest

    Pressure is mounting on the Polish government, as the UN and the European Commission are very worried about a huge, illegal increase of logging in Europe’s oldest forest.

  • snowy forest for story saying Check needed to keep Bialowieza off World Heritage in Danger list – UNESCO advisors

    Check needed to keep Bialowieza off World Heritage in Danger list – UNESCO advisors

    UN advisors have called on the Polish government to allow officials to check whether illegal logging means Bialowieza forest should go on the World Heritage in Danger list.

  • Follow us

    Newsletters

    Get our regular email newsletters, they contain the latest updates on our work as well as features and articles about environmental issues, science and politics.