Time “Running Out” To Effectively Transpose EU Environmental Acquis Into UK Law

Time to effectively transpose EU environmental legislation into UK law is “running out”, according to the Environmental Policy Forum, which says recent developments have only compounded its concerns.

The Environmental Policy Forum (EPF) is a network of UK environmental professional bodies and learned societies promoting environmental sustainability and resilience for the public benefit.

The EPF’s member bodies, which includes CIWM, have a collective membership of around 70,000 environmental professionals, many of whom are individually chartered in environmental practice, science and engineering disciplines.

“It is essential that sufficient time and resource is made available for parliamentary committees to review and decide upon the appropriate level of scrutiny necessary for each statutory instrument.”

It said in a statement: “We recognise that the Government needs to ensure the EU (Withdrawal) Bill meets the overall purpose of enabling full transposition of EU law into UK law in a timely manner.

“However, we remain deeply concerned by the apparent lack of parliamentary scrutiny and the lack of time remaining for the development of the secondary legislation required for a working statute book on exit day.

“It is essential that sufficient time and resource is made available for parliamentary committees to review and decide upon the appropriate level of scrutiny necessary for each statutory instrument.”

A number of recent developments, whilst generally welcome by the EPF, compound its concerns over the “lack of time” remaining to effectively transpose the EU environmental acquis into UK law.

A proposed Environmental “Commission”

On November 1, the Environment Secretary, Michael Gove, giving evidence to the Environmental Audit Committee, suggested establishing a new “commission-like body” to hold government and other public bodies to account on all matters of environmental law.

The EPF says it welcomes this suggestion, which exactly aligns with its call for a new independent body for environmental governance and enforcement, submitted to the Secretary on September 4.

“We also welcome the Secretary’s commitment to a consultation process on the matter, during which we will actively consult with our respective memberships to inform our response,” it says.

Given the time constraints, the EPF is asking government to consult on the new body and to agree its formation before exit day.

The powers of Defra’s NDPBs

In the same evidence session, the Mr Gove suggested that the Defra’s family of non-departmental public bodies could gain responsibilities that have been, until Brexit, the function of European agencies.

“We believe that, where powers which currently reside with European agencies are conferred on an existing body, or a new body is established, this should be done through the affirmative parliamentary scrutiny procedure with prior public consultation,” the EPF says.

Exit Day

On November 9, the Prime Minister announced that the Bill will be amended to state an exit date of March 29, 2019. However, there was no further clarification regarding the “Henry VIII powers”, through which Ministers may, without any parliamentary consultation, set different exit dates for different matters, merely that the date would be added “on the front page”.

“As the Bill is currently drafted, Ministers would retain the power to set other exit dates until the ‘headline’ exit date has passed, which is significant to the related expiration of extended powers (two years from the exit date).”

The EPF says: “We are disappointed by this missed opportunity to assuage concerns of excessive Ministerial powers and we urge that the opportunity for rectification is taken now. As the Bill is currently drafted, Ministers would retain the power to set other exit dates until the ‘headline’ exit date has passed, which is significant to the related expiration of extended powers (two years from the exit date).

“The EPF calls for further consideration and clarity here, while we support recommendations that the statutory instruments used to set exit date(s) are subject to the affirmative procedure.”

The Environment Secretary stated in a letter dated September 29 to the Chair of the Efra Committee that his department is “considering how best to engage and consult with stakeholders on our secondary legislative programme by setting up a consultation group to provide external advice and challenge on our proposed methodology.”

The EPF says it “stands ready” to advise or otherwise “assist” in consultation processes.


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  1. Yet another red herring raised by the Bremoaners. Every bit of EU legislation has always had to be transposed into UK law before it applied to us so why all this baloney?

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