Brexit shouldn’t cut EU environment protections, UK Parliament committee says

31 January 2017 9:56am

27 July 2016. By Lewis Crofts*

The UK government shouldn’t roll back environmental protections enshrined in EU law when it negotiates its departure from the union, according to a letter from the Parliament’s Environmental Audit Committee to Brexit minister David Davis.

“It is crucial that the government demonstrates its commitment to environmental protection at an early stage in the negotiations,” Mary Creagh, the committee’s chair wrote in the July 20 letter released today.

Davis, the secretary of state for exiting the bloc, is in talks with other government ministers over the UK’s negotiating strategy for terminating its EU membership. Parliamentary committees are putting pressure on the government to ensure various aspects of policy and law aren’t forgotten in the talks.

“My committee believes the government should, as a minimum, commit to maintaining in law the existing level of environmental protection currently guaranteed by EU law,” Creagh wrote.

EU laws have been responsible for waste management, clearing up air and water pollution, and protecting biodiversity, the Labour politician said.

Creagh wants reassurance from Davis about EU-derived environmental laws and about the UK’s position on the EU’s current strategy on waste and recycling, called the Circular Economy Package.

The committee has launched a full inquiry into the impact of the EU referendum result on the environment.

One option for the UK on leaving the EU might be to join the broader European Economic Area trading region, which now includes the 28 EU states plus Norway, Iceland and Lichtenstein. In that case, the UK would automatically be bound by most EU environmental laws, excluding rules protecting birds and wildlife.

*Additional reporting by Emily Waterfield

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