MPs call for Brexit environmental laws

The House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee has warned that environmental protections must not be weakened during the process of leaving the EU.

The committee is therefore calling on the government to introduce a new Environmental Protection Act during Article 50 negotiations to maintain the UK's strong environmental standards.

Over 70 per cent of the land area of the UK is in some form of agricultural use, with EU farm subsidies currently contributing up to around 50 - 60 per cent of UK farm income.

Looking at the legislative, trade and financial issues surrounding the UK’s departure from the EU, the committee’s report, The Future of the Natural Environment after the EU Referendum, suggests that, unless the government acts to protect environmental standards, the process of departure could damage protections for wildlife and habitats.

This includes: clarity on subsidies for farmers post-EU; the possibility of a negative impact for UK farmers, highlighting Common Agricultural Policy, trade and competition as areas requiring further investigation; the need to set out how the government will provide an equivalent or better level of protection after leaving the EU in the form of an Environmental Protection Act.

Mary Creagh, chair of the committee, said: "Changes from Brexit could put our countryside, farming and wildlife at risk. Protections for Britain's wildlife and special places currently guaranteed under European law could end up as 'zombie legislation' even with the Great Repeal Bill.

“The government should safeguard protections for Britain's wildlife and special places in a new Environmental Protection Act. UK farming faces significant risks – from a loss of subsidies and tariffs on farm exports to increased competition from countries with weaker food, animal welfare and environmental standards. The government must not trade away these key protections as we leave the EU. It should also give clarity over any future farm subsidies."

Meanwhile, Sir Ivan Rogers has left his role as the UK Ambassador to the EU. Due to depart the position in October, Rogers leaves the position early, noticeably before UK-EU negotiations begin, hinting towards ‘ill-founded arguments’ and ‘muddled thinking’ as areas needing challenging by his successor.