Green Party co-leader Caroline Lucas has called on the Government to introduce legislation to maintain Britain’s environmental laws when the UK leaves the EU.
A report by Lucas lists all main European environmental legislation that affects Defra, 16 of which focus on the waste sector.
Lucas quoted House of Commons Library research that more than 1,100 environmental laws would have to be transposed into UK legislation, but she said the Government had yet to identify all of the relevant legislation.
The report says Brexit threatened environmental policy in the UK and there was a potential lack of oversight for compliance: “At present the European Commission and European Court of Justice monitor and act on breaches of legislation – there is no similar system in place in the UK and laws could become unenforceable.”
A reduction in funding for the environment and EU initiatives such as the LIFE+ fund is also feared.
Lucas said: “We can clearly see the huge risks of downgrading environmental protection as part of the post-referendum process. Key laws could become unenforceable, spending on crucial schemes could be cut and new trade deals could undermine existing regulations.
“Outside the EU, there will be much greater probability of legislative change in the UK, more exposure to the political cycle and a danger that investors will be wary of potentially higher risks.
“The relative attractiveness of the UK as a place for green investment is in danger of being further reduced.”
She calls on ministers to introduce a ‘green guarantee’ that confirms scrutiny on environmental legislation’s passage into the UK. The report also urges:
- retained relationships with EU environmental institutions
- a new Environmental Protection Act
- a framework to ensure new trade deals will not lower environmental standards