IEMA calls for scrutiny on EU (Withdrawal) Bill

As MPs begin to debate the landmark EU (Withdrawal) Bill, IEMA and other professional bodies have called for meaningful parliamentary scrutiny of environmental policies and laws.

We support the government’s commitment to “be the first generation to leave the environment in a better state than it inherited” and welcome environment secretary Michael Gove’s ambition for a “green Brexit”. However, we are concerned the Bill fails to adequately provide for parliamentary scrutiny of the raft of changes required to make environmental laws function. We are similarly concerned that it will not ensure that the fundamental principles which underpin decades of environmental improvement are protected, or provide a meaningful framework for independent scrutiny of future government performance on the environment. It is also important that devolved administrations should not be constrained from pursuing ambitious environmental policies and targets of their own as a result of the powers the Bill creates.

Another concern relates to the status of international environmental agreements that the UK and EU are parties to, as in a recent report from the UK Environmental Law Association. Wording in the Withdrawal Bill is opaque on whether all of these agreements will be rolled over. This is partly owing to the complexity of their implementation, arising from the three ways in which the UK as an EU member state becomes party to an international agreement as they can be ratified directly by the UK or the EU, or through joint UK/EU ratification. It is vital that government clarifies its position on international agreements and makes appropriate provision for full UK ratification and implementation. This is evidenced by a recent IEMA survey, where members were clear the UK must implement all international environmental agreements ratified by the UK and EU.

Martin Baxter, chief policy adviser at IEMA @mbaxteriema


Martin Baxter is executive director of policy at IEMA. He also leads the UK delegation to ISO on all environmental standards and chairs the environmental accreditations panel within UKAS, the UK accreditation body.

Follow him on twitter @mbaxteriema

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