As UK Peers gather in Westminster to examine the “line by line” detail of the EU (Withdrawal) Bill, a network of policy experts has called on the Lords to take “crucial environmental considerations” into account during their scrutiny.
In a briefing to the House of Lords, representatives of the Environmental Policy Forum (EPF), a network of UK environmental professional bodies and learned societies (including CIWM), which promote environmental sustainability, have outlined four central concerns which must be addressed during this critical examination stage of the EU (Withdrawal) Bill.
Experts from the EPF’s member organisations – which represent over 70,000 environment and sustainability professionals – say that Peers must consider whether in its current form, the EU (Withdrawal) Bill:
- ensures appropriate parliamentary scrutiny during withdrawal
- closes the governance gap by exit day
- transposes the principles of environmental protection
- enables collaborative working with the devolved nations
The EPF states that it does not believe the current draft Bill extends far enough in its scope.
The group has provided full explanation of concerns raised and made recommendations, which aim to protect and enhance the UK’s environment during and beyond withdrawal from the EU to the Lords.
“The professionals we represent need reassurance that their previous achievements in making the UK an international leader on environmental progress will not be undermined or, worse still, reversed.”
Professor Will Pope, chair of the Environmental Policy Forum, said the group supports “necessary action” to carry over existing environmental law into the UK statute books, but that clarity around depth and detail is critical.
“Given the large volume of EU environmental legislation and the positive influence this has had on the UK’s environment, we welcome the steps being taken to transfer the body of acquis into UK law” said Pope.
“However, it is important that this is undertaken in a robust and transparent manner. We are concerned that the four issues we’ve highlighted are not adequately addressed by the Bill in its current state, so today we call on Peers to secure assurance from the Government that the UK’s citizens and our environment will be appropriately protected up to and after exit day.”
The EPF’s member bodies include the Society for the Environment, global sustainability body IEMA, the Chartered Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management, the Chartered Institution of Water and Environmental Management, the Chartered Institution of Wastes Management, the Institution of Environmental Sciences, the Institute of Fisheries Management, and the Landscape Institute.
In their sign off, the group pledges continued support to the Peers during all stages of withdrawal to ensure that the work of their members is not “reversed” as a result of Brexit.
Professor Pope explains: “Our organisation and its members are all committed to working with the Government to ensure the environment is protected and enhanced for the public benefit.
“The professionals we represent need reassurance that their previous achievements in making the UK an international leader on environmental progress will not be undermined or, worse still, reversed. The time left between now and Exit Day is quickly ticking by, and we must have assurance from today if we are to stand any chance of tackling the big issues.”