Destruction of UK’s nature in the name of ‘growth’

Make your voice heard!

The Government it pushing a Bill through Parliament the will affect every aspect of the environment and nature. If you want to say why this shouldn’t happen give your evidence, click HERE. Please note they require written evidence as to why environmental laws should be retained. Or/and you can write you MP – click HERE

Explainer

In our blog entitled Attack on Nature! we write about the Bill currently going through Parliament which is very likely to remove much of the UK’s environmental protections which have been built up over the last 47 years. This blog explains the complicated position environmental organisations find themselves in when challenging the proposed law. If the 570 regulations protecting habitat and the environment (as documented in the Bill) are lost from the laws of the UK the Environment Act of 2021 will be virtually toothless!

So what going on?

The problem we face now is the Retained EU Law (Revocation and Reform) Bill introduced into Parliament by the UK Government in September 2022. The fact of the matter is that this law, if passed by Parliament, is so wide-ranging that it is difficult to address one particular aspect without being knowledgeable about the rest of the approx 2,400 it affects. The Government should have selected a sector-by-sector approach if they thought it was necessary but that would not have complied with their ideology of a ‘bonfire of EU rights’ as promised by the Liz Truss government.  We believe will get into an almighty mess if this Bill become Law in the years to come!   

So what does the Retained EU Law (Revocation and Reform) Bill (REUL) cover?

The Bill currently impacts around 2,400 regulations across 21 Government departments. The UK Government’s own interactive dashboard of REUL notes that not only does it currently include over 2400 pieces of REUL, but this does not represent a final list, and they are still working on identifying other laws it affects! This indicates massive the scale of the task ahead.  If passed, whether they are identified or not, all EU derived laws would fall away after December 2023. This not only risks huge amounts of legal uncertainty but puts rights and equalities standards we have taken for granted at risk.  Leaving aside, for the moment, environmental matters the laws which could (would?) include for example: 

  • Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999;
  • Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002;
  • Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 2013;
  • Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008;
  • Consumer Rights Act 2015;
  • Building Regulations 2010;
  • Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015;
  • Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Regulations 2013; and
  • General Food Regulations 2004.

The above list has been taken from a published list produced by Shoosmiths a major UK law firm. The list of laws is so wide ranging – for example it covers personal employment rights as documented by Just Fair the civil rights campaigning organisation. The extent of legislation covered by the Bill means it has the potential to affect most, if not all sectors in the UK. 

Under the Bill, most EU retained law (EU law that was retained to form part of UK law after Brexit) will be “sunsetted” by 31 December 2023. This means that it will be automatically repealed unless Ministers decide to maintain it before that date.  The Bill gives the UK and devolved governments wide powers to determine the future of each piece of retained EU law. For example, they can amend it instead of repealing it.

One key component of the bill is that the overall effect of any change must not increase the regulatory burden on business. This is a clear statement of intent that the Bill is designed to help promote ‘growth’ However they don’t explain how this grow is to be actually to be achieved. 

Environmental Protections

Sadly the ‘minnow’ in all on this are environmental protections:  The scale of this review is as enormous as the timetable is short. There are 570 laws relating to the environment alone, of which 437 are yet to be reviewed.

The risks

These include legislative changes that are not fully thought through, are overlooked, or lead to divergence between the four nations of the UK.

Lobbying

If made law there are opportunities powerful organisations and businesses being able to make a case to the Government for reform or deregulation which would support their own cause. A major problem when it comes to protecting the environment. Environmental organisations with limited funds are on the back foot in this area because of their limited funds which means they may note be able to employ experts to provide the case for retention of the laws during 2023.

Progress through Parliament

The Bill has had it’s ‘second reading’ in Parliament where it was voted through by 280 to 225, Now it goes to Committee stage.

Deadline for the public to give written evidence submissions to the Committee

Written evidence can be submitted to the Committee. CLICK HERE to find out how to participate. The first sitting of the Public Bill Committee is expected to be on Tuesday 8 November and the Committee is scheduled to report by Tuesday 22 November. However, please note that may conclude its consideration of the Bill earlier than 5.00pm on Tuesday 22 November. Guidance says “You are strongly advised to submit your written evidence as soon as possible”.


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