Martin Baxter on preparing for Brexit

September sees the start of the Parliamentary and regulatory process for leaving the EU, with scrutiny and proposed amendments being considered to the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill.

The Bill will, assuming it is enacted:

  • Repeal the European Communities Act 1972
  • Convert European Union law into UK law as it applies in the UK at the moment of exit
  • Create temporary, limited powers to make secondary legislation to enable corrections to be made to the laws that do not operate appropriately once we have left the EU, and to enable the withdrawal agreement to be implemented.

The Withdrawal Bill confers powers on Ministers to ‘correct’ legal deficiencies that need to be addressed to ensure a functioning legal system from exit day. There is also little doubt that opposition parties will seek to restrict these powers. Wherever the balance is ultimately struck, it is vital that the Withdrawal Bill provides a process for all EU-derived environmental law to continue to apply on exit day.

Preparations are under way to ensure a transposition of environmental law to maintain an “operable status quo”, and IEMA is working as part of Defra’s regulatory sounding board to provide input and oversight across environmental policy areas. At present, it is anticipated that 100 new statutory instruments will be required to both convert EU law and ‘correct’ existing law. We are pushing for a timetable and appropriate public scrutiny, so efforts can be concentrated on key areas such as chemicals regulation.

Many thanks to all who completed our IEMA survey on core environmental principles. We received an overwhelmingly positive response, and will be publishing them in due course.

Martin Baxter chief policy adviser at IEMA @mbaxteriema

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