UK environmental laws under threat from ‘free-for-all’ deregulation

Hundreds of UK environmental laws covering water quality, sewage pollution, air quality, habitat protection and pesticide use are set to be scrapped UK law under a government bill.

Environmentalists have accused Liz Truss’ government of backtracking on a post-Brexit pledge to halt nature’s decline by 2030. They say revoking 570 environmental laws that were rolled over from EU law after Brexit is tantamount to free-for-all deregulation leaving the environment unprotected.

The RSPB said it was deeply concerned that the government was about to launch an all-out attack on laws that protect nature.

The bill tabled in Parliament outlines how 570 environmental laws and hundreds more covering all government departments, including transport, health and social services, working hours and other areas, are being amended. be removed from UK law or rewritten. These include habitat regulations which have played a vital role in protecting places for wildlife over the past 30 years and laws covering the discharge of nitrates and phosphates into rivers.

The laws were kept after Brexit when then Conservative Environment Secretary Michael Gove promised that the UK’s environmental laws would not be watered down.

The successful Recall and EU Law Reform Bill was tabled in parliament on Thursday. Its purpose is “to abrogate certain retained EU rights; make provision for the interpretation of retained EU law and its relationship to other rights; to provide for provisions relating to powers to amend retained EU law in order to allow for the reformulation, replacement or updating of certain retained EU rights; to enable updating of restatements and the replacement provision.

Tabling the bill in parliament, Business Secretary Jacob Rees-Mogg said: “The EU law retained was never intended to sit on the law books indefinitely. Now is the time to end the special status of EU law retained in the UK’s statute books on 31 December 2023, to fully realize the opportunities of Brexit and support the unique culture of innovation in the UK. UK.

“The bill will terminate the majority of retained EU law so that it expires on 31 December 2023. All retained EU law contained in national secondary legislation and retained direct EU law will expire on this date, unless otherwise specified.”

Richard Benwell, chief executive of Wildlife and Countryside Link, said scrapping the laws would be “legislative vandalism”. Rewriting them would unacceptably delay the protections the current law provides for the environment, he said.

The Conservative manifesto promised “the most ambitious environmental program of any country in the world”.

Ruth Chambers, senior researcher at Greener UK, said the planned derailment of hundreds of laws protecting air, rivers, wildlife and food standards would derail government promises and put public health at risk.

Chambers said the December 2023 timetable was far too tight, adding: “The new government is racing towards free-for-all deregulation where vital environmental protections are torn and public health is put at risk.”

“Ministers are pushing for the biggest ever law-removal exercise to be completed in just 15 months, while cutting civil service and departmental budgets.

“Not only is this not being delivered on time, it risks dire consequences and renders obsolete government promises to restore nature and rid our rivers of sewage.”

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