Guidance

Upholding environmental standards from 1 January 2021

How the UK will uphold environmental standards from 1 January 2021. These include standards in waste, air quality, water, and protection of habitats and species.

New rules for January 2021

The UK has left the EU, and the transition period after Brexit comes to an end this year.

This page tells you what you'll need to do from 1 January 2021. It will be updated if anything changes.

You can also read about the transition period.

Some environmental legislation will stay the same and some will be adapted so that environmental standards will be maintained from 1 January 2021.

What will stay the same

The UK government is committed to maintaining environmental standards and international obligations from 1 January 2021. The UK will continue its aim set out in the 25 Year Environment Plan to be the first generation to leave the natural environment in a better state than it inherited it.

Existing EU environmental laws will continue to operate in UK law. The following will also continue:

  • the UK’s legal framework for enforcing domestic environmental legislation by UK regulatory bodies or court systems
  • environmental targets currently covered by EU legislation - they are already covered in UK legislation
  • permits and licences issued by UK regulatory bodies

What will be changed or introduced

From 1 January 2021, current legislation will be changed to:

  • remove references to EU legislation
  • transfer powers from EU institutions to UK institutions
  • make sure the UK meets international agreement obligations

On 18 July 2018, the government announced it will bring forward the first Environment Bill in more than 20 years. The Bill will apply to England and reserved environmental matters for which the UK government has responsibility.

From 1 January 2021, the UK government will establish a new, independent statutory body - The Office for Environmental Protection (OEP). The OEP will oversee compliance with environmental law and will be able to bring legal proceedings against government and public authorities if necessary. The OEP will also scrutinise and advise government. Environmental principles will guide future government policy.

The UK government will introduce interim measures before the OEP is set up. These interim arrangements will continue until the OEP becomes fully operational.

Read more about plans for an independent statutory body and Environment Bill.

Published 13 September 2018
Last updated 21 October 2019 + show all updates
  1. Updated callout box to reflect recent developments about a Brexit deal

  2. First published.

Transition period

Find out what it means for you