Government falls short of delivering promised ‘green Brexit' - The Wildlife Trusts

Leading green groups issue final Brexit report card that finds static or weaker protections for the environment, urging government to strengthen plans

A coalition of the country’s leading green groups has today concluded that environmental protections in areas such as nature restoration and air quality are either no stronger or weaker than they were pre-Brexit.

Since 2017 Greener UK has tracked the strength of environmental standards as the UK takes back control of rules and regulations. In its eleventh and final report card, the coalition finds that the government’s landmark promise to ‘maintain and enhance’ protections has not been met. Protections for climate, farming, fisheries and water quality are judged similar to 2016; for chemicals, nature, air quality and waste, they are weaker now than they were before.

The coalition, which includes The Wildlife Trusts, RSPB and ClientEarth, cites two general reasons for the findings. Firstly, there are concerns over institutions and regulations: new bodies to enforce air pollution limits and water quality, including the Office for Environmental Protection, are set to be less independent and weaker than those they are replacing; crucial environmental principles, which underpin strong environmental law, are also being watered down.

Secondly, the UK government’s desire to retain the option to diverge from EU rules has left holes in existing standards and compromised cooperation on important issues. This can be seen by a lack of coordination with the EU on mutually beneficial issues, from carbon pricing to wildlife protection, and the decision to leave the EU’s gold standard chemical regulation system, EU REACH. In creating its own domestic version with fewer staff, less funding and restricted access to existing data, public health and the environment is being put at risk.

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Posted On: 16/03/2021

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