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The Repeal Bill: a huge opportunity to safeguard our environmental and animal welfare protections

12 July 2017

Commenting ahead of the publication of the UK Government’s 'Repeal Bill', Dr Elaine King, Director of Wildlife and Countryside Link, said:

"The Repeal Bill is of huge significance to our environmental and animal welfare protections. Whilst we welcomed some of the certainty contained in the Government’s White Paper, we also raised a number of questions which we hope will be addressed in the Bill. Our concerns include ensuring that all environmental legislation is converted from EU to domestic law, preventing gaps in environmental and animal welfare legislation, securing appropriate governance relationships and recognising devolution settlements.

"The UK’s membership of the EU has had a considerable impact on the UK’s nature and wildlife. It has played a central role in enforcing common standards across a wide range of environmental issues, from protecting species from extinction, to ensuring that we have clean air and clean beaches.

"Now, as the UK Government seeks to negotiate a new partnership with the EU, it is essential that it can demonstrate an equivalence with EU environmental legislation. This is essential if the Government is to meet its own aspiration to be a world leader in environmental protection and animal welfare, and leave the environment in a better condition than we inherited it.

"Over the course of the Brexit negotiations and whatever happens afterwards, Wildlife and Countryside Link and Environment Links UK will continue to work with our member organisations, and engage with relevant Government Ministers and officials in the UK to secure positive outcomes for the natural environment.”

Notes to editors

1 The Environment Links UK Brexit Nature Coalition comprises legal and policy experts from across the four UK Link organisations - Scottish Environment Link, Wales Environment Link, Northern Ireland Environment Link and Wildlife and Countryside Link. The Group aims to ensure that the UK Government brings all EU environmental legislation into domestic law in each of the UK countries and addresses any shortcomings in environmental, wildlife and animal welfare law.

2. Environment Links UK response to the Great Repeal Bill White Paper (June 2017)

Along with our sister Links in the devolved countries, and 24 of our member organisations, Wildlife and Countryside Link set out its collective view on the 2015 UK Government’s White Paper, ‘Legislating for the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the European Union’ and implications for the proposed Repeal Bill. The response focused specifically on issues relevant to the protection of the UK environment (including wildlife) and animal welfare.

The Environment Links UK response also set out how the Government can demonstrate equivalence with EU legislation, to meet the UK Government’s aspiration to be a world leader in environmental protection and animal welfare, and leave the environment in a better condition than we inherited it.

The Repeal Bill should:

  • Bring over the whole body of EU environmental law and related laws required to be coherent with environmental law; including the relevant parts of the Common Agricultural Policy, Common Fisheries Policy and energy policy, in line with a principle of non-regression
  • Allow no opportunity for gaps in domestic environmental protections to open up without full parliamentary scrutiny
  • Ensure the law is properly implemented and enforced

3. Wildlife and Countryside Link (Link) is a coalition which brings together 46 voluntary organisations concerned with the conservation and protection of wildlife and the countryside. Our members practise and advocate environmentally sensitive land management, and encourage respect for and enjoyment of natural landscapes and features, the historic and marine environment and biodiversity. Taken together our members have the support of over 8 million people in the UK and manage over 750,000 hectares of land.

ENDS