Green groups and MPs fight for Repeal Bill amendment

Written by: Editorial Staff | Published:
Head of Greener UK Amy Mount

Green groups and MPs are working together on a repeal-bill amendment to ensure the environment doesn't come off a poor loser when the UK leaves the EU.

The Great Repeal Bill will eventually end the reign of European law in Britain by repealing the European Communities Act 1972.

But environmental charities in the Greener UK coalition, a team of 13 environmental organisations, and a group of cross-party MPs are concerned the bill will “dilute” laws such as those on clean seawater and beaches and air quality in cities.

They disagree with the government that existing UK mechanisms are enough to replace functions currently carried out by EU agencies and the European Court of Justice.

MPs backing the amendment so far include former Labour Party leader and energy and climate change secretary Ed Miliband and Green Party co-leader Caroline Lucas.

Head of Greener UK Amy Mount said: “The key thing is to make sure the bulk of environmental law from the EU is brought over into our domestic law. It's not just about standards, but implementation and enforcement of those standards.”

Currently EU agencies play an important role monitoring the state of the environment, checking government compliance with environmental law and enforcing rules by fines or other sanctions.

Mount added: “The worst situation would be if the repeal bill leads to a sloppy conversion process and many elements of environmental protection fall through the cracks.”

The amendment seeks to ensure “all existing EU environmental law” is transferred into domestic law, leaving “no opportunity for gaps” in domestic environmental protections.

Greener UK chair Shaun Spiers said: “No one voted for dirtier beaches or worse air quality. The government has promised to bring all environmental protections into domestic law. But laws are only effective when there are strong institutions to enforce them. The ultimate risk of fines imposed by the European Court has led the UK government to clean up its act several times.”

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