Upholding environmental standards if there’s a no-deal Brexit

How the UK will uphold environmental standards if there's a no-deal Brexit. These include standards in waste, air quality, water, and protection of habitats and species.

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Some environmental legislation will stay the same and some will be adapted so that environmental standards will be maintained if there’s a no-deal Brexit.

What will stay the same

The UK government is committed to maintaining environmental standards and international obligations after exit day. 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 as part of the EU Withdrawal Act 2018. The following will also not change:

  • 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

The UK government and devolved administrations will change current legislation 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.

The UK government will establish a new, independent statutory body after Brexit - 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 if there’s a no-deal Brexit. These interim arrangements will continue until the OEP becomes fully operational in early 2021.

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

Published 13 September 2018