DEFRA has published guidance on how the UK government will uphold environmental standards if the country leaves the EU in March 2019 without a deal. These include standards in water and waste, as well as air quality and the protection of habitats and species.
The Department said the EU Withdrawal Act 2018 will ensure all existing EU environmental law continues to operate in UK law. It said the UK government and devolved administrations would amend current legislation to correct references to EU legislation, transfer powers from EU institutions to domestic institutions and ensure international agreement obligations are met.
It continued: “The UK government will then have the opportunity, over time and with parliamentary scrutiny, to ensure the legislative framework for England (and environmental matters that are not devolved) delivers our aim to be the first generation to leave the natural environment in a better state than we inherited it.” This includes through the establishment of a new, independent statutory body to hold government to account on environmental standards in relation to England, alongside a statutory statement of environmental principles to guide future government policy making.
DEFRA added: “We are considering what interim measures may be necessary in a no deal scenario after 29 March 2019 and before the Environment Act is passed and comes into effect.” A number of technical notices covering specific areas of environmental legislation will be published over the coming weeks.
Finally, the guidance reported that domestic environmental legislation would be unaffected and that international obligations will continue to be upheld through multilateral environmental agreements.