My response to constituents who contacted me about the possible dilution of environmental protections post-Brexit was:
Leaving the EU must not lead to any watering down of existing standards on the environment.
The Government has now introduced the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill – which will convert EU law into UK law – and has given assurances that this Bill will mean “the whole body of existing EU environmental law continues to have effect in UK law”.
While I welcome this commitment, I am concerned that the Repeal Bill, as currently drafted, proposes giving sweeping delegated powers to the Government but lacks accountability or effective oversight by Parliament. I am also concerned that it lacks clear enforcement mechanisms and will not go far enough to ensure that UK environmental standards keep pace with the EU after we leave.
I believe we must ensure that all EU-derived laws that are of benefit to our environment are fully protected after Brexit, without qualifications, limitations or sunset clauses. I can assure you that I will press for this to be the case, and for EU environmental protections to be transposed into British law and strengthened where necessary.
You also raise the issue of future agricultural policy following Brexit. The UK Government has outlined proposals for a new Agriculture Bill which is intended to provide stability to farmers in England as we leave the EU and also to protect our natural environment for future generations. Any such legislation in Scotland is the responsibility of the Scottish Government and you might find it helpful to contact your MSP to ask what can be done about this at Holyrood. However, the Scottish Parliament has so far determined environmental laws under the EU framework and there may need to be a UK framework to enable legislation and regulations to operate properly.
It is imperative that the UK Government’s warm words are followed by robust action. However, I am concerned that the long-awaited 25 Year Environment Plan (which also applies to England only) is still outstanding and believe this shows that the Government’s record on combating climate change and environmental damage is one of inaction.
I can assure you that I will hold the Government to account on its promises on the environment, agriculture and fisheries, and I will press for environmental standards to be protected and strengthened as the Repeal Bill makes its way through Parliament.