The Repeal Bill - everything you need to know

Friday 25th August 2017

Vital laws that protect our wildlife and the health of our rivers and seas are at risk by our departure from the EU. On the 7th and 12th of September MPs will debate the 'Repeal Bill' (the EU (Withdrawal) Bill), which is designed to end our membership of the EU.

This Bill aims to ensure that EU laws be carried across into UK law; continuing the current protection in place. 

What you can do to help

There are real risks to wildlife from the Repeal Bill (we'll explain more about this below). We are hopeful that everyone who loves UK wildlife and wild places will let their MP know that they want the Repeal Bill to keep the protection currently afforded. Please ask your MP to stand up for wildlife during the Repeal Bill debates in September. Thank you.


What we want to see in the Repeal Bill

1. All current EU wildlife and environment laws brought across in to UK law

2. Any future potential changes to these laws checked and debated by Parliament
• Clauses 7-9 and 17 of the Repeal Bill give the Government lots of powers to legislate or de-legislate by Statutory Instrument
• According to the Repeal Bill, they could justify this on the grounds of a “failure to operate effectively” or “any other deficiency” “arising from withdrawal”. But these terms are not defined.
• This could mean that Ministers or civil servants weaken those wildlife laws we do retain without involving Parliament: a Minister under pressure from a developer could unilaterally remove vital wildlife protections, which we have spent decades securing.

3. Wildlife and environment laws must be enforced and upheld
• Currently the European Commission keeps an eye on the UK Government to check it is implementing and enforcing environmental law.
• Although the Bill gives the Government the power to pass these functions to new or existing public bodies (clause 7(5)), it is not obliged to do so.
• We think that all the functions carried out by EU institutions in relation to environmental protection should be passed to well-funded public bodies after Brexit.

4. All EU environmental principles transferred to UK law
It is not clear that key environmental principles will be carried over in any form through the Bill. This would greatly weaken wildlife protection.

The three big EU environmental principles are:
- Those who pollute the environment pay for repairing the damage (the ‘Polluter Pays’ principle)
- Economic development happens in a way that looks after our natural resources for future generations (the ‘Sustainable Development’ principle)
- When an activity puts the health of humans or the environment at risk, action must be taken to deal with this, even if the science is not 100% clear (the ‘Precautionary Principle’)


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