The Repeal Bill: The challenges we face

Richard Clarke writes on the challenges facing environmental regulation within the Repeal Bill

Brexit and Westminster

With the publication of the Queen’s Speech, the “Great” Repeal Bill is scheduled to come before parliament during the next term. Its purpose is to transpose existing EU legislation into UK law and provide for the repeal of the European Communities Act 1972, which gives EU law legal power. 

However, as former environment secretary Andrea Leadsom made clear, up to one-third of environmental legislation “won’t be easy to transpose”. It is thought these will be laws where regulatory, monitoring or enforcement currently resides in EU bodies, such as REACH. The Repeal Bill is unlikely to provide clarity on how such regulation will operate in a post-Brexit world. Instead we would expect such issues to be addressed during negotiations on future trade and customs arrangements. 

Cause for concern

Outside the transposition of existing EU laws, some significant areas of future environmental regulation will potentially require further clarification or additional legislation. One key area relates to the absence of overarching principles in UK environmental law. Because most UK legislation came to the statute books during the UK’s membership of the EU, ...

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