Paddy Fowler
21 February 2018

Professional bodies highlight "crucial" environmental concerns in EU Withdrawal Bill

As Peers gather in Westminster to commence their line-by-line examination of the EU (Withdrawal) Bill, the IES joins seven other professional bodies calling on the House of Lords to take crucial environmental considerations into account during their scrutiny. 

In a briefing to members of the House of Lords, representatives of the Environmental Policy Forum (EPF) - whose members represent over 70,000 environment and sustainability professionals - outlined four key concerns which must be addressed during the Bill's examination in committee. As the time remaining to address these issues before exit day rapidly passes, we urge Peers to consider, with urgency, whether the Bill in its current form: 

  1. Ensures appropriate parliamentary scrutiny during withdrawal;
  2. Closes the governance gap by exit day;
  3. Transposes the principles of environmental protection; and
  4. Enables collaborative working with the devolved nations.

The EPF states that they do 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.

Professor Will Pope, Chair of the EPF, said today that 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”. “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.

In their sign off, the group pledge their 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.

Commenting on the statement, IES Policy Officer, Robert Ashcroft said:

Our eight organisations have come together repeatedly to highlight inadequacies in this Bill. We welcome the Government’s steps to transfer EU legislation into UK law, but it is vital this is done robustly and transparently. There is a great deal of work to be done to ensure protections are maintained for the good of people and the environment, and as exit day draws nearer these concerns grow increasingly urgent.

Download the full briefing (pdf)


Supporters of the briefing
The Institution of Environmental Sciences, Society for the Environment, Institute of Environmental Management and Assessment, Chartered Institute of Water and Environmental Management, Chartered Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management, Chartered Institute of Wastes Management, Institute of Fisheries Management and the Landscape Institute.

For more information, contact Robert Ashcroft.

Press coverage
BusinessGreen - 'Hard Brexit fears mount, as report argues strong green rules would boost UK trade prospects'; 'PMQs: Corbyn and May clash over post-Brexit environmental protection' - 'Environmental groups lobby Lords over Brexit Bill'