Environmental laws will be safeguarded post-Brexit

The government has confirmed that existing environmental law will be carried over into UK law when Britain leaves the EU.

The Department for Exiting the European Union published a white paper ‘Legislating for the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the European Union’ last week, which set out the government’s proposals for ensuring that a legal framework is still in place following Brexit.

The paper states that the Great Repeal Bill will ensure that the whole body of environment law is safeguarded prior to Brexit, ‘providing businesses and stakeholders with maximum certainty as we leave the EU’.

Under the 1972 European Communities Act, EU law currently prevails over UK law. The repeal bill would end the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice in the UK and convert existing EU legislation into domestic law. That will only come into force on the day Britain leaves the EU, with future governments then able to amend, repeal or improve legislation, making changes through secondary legislation.

The deadline for the UK to leave the EU has now been set as March 2019, after Prime Minister Theresa May notified the union on 29 March 2017 that she was triggering Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty.

This latest white paper confirms that by that date, regulations contained within legislation including the Waste Framework, Packaging and Packaging Waste, and Landfill Directives will continue to be legally binding in the UK, at least in the short term. The paper goes on to say that this will give the government the opportunity ‘to ensure our legislative framework is outcome driven and delivers on our overall commitment to improve the environment within a generation’. It adds that any changes, however, will occur over time following consultations on amending the regulatory frameworks, including through parliamentary scrutiny.

Keeping you informed

We will continue to keep all of our WEEE compliance and packaging compliance members, clients and partners informed of changes as the EU exit negotiations progress. If you are a WEEE or packaging compliance member and have any questions about the impact of the UK's departure from the EU, please get in touch with a member of our team on 0845 129 7177.

You can read the white paper on the government's website.

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