Implications of Brexit on Environmental Law

The implications of Brexit on environmental law and its application are only slowly becoming apparent. An article in the September 2018 edition of Town & Country Planning journal looks at implications of Brexit on Environmental law, which are potentially significant.

As a part of the process of withdrawal from the EU, the Secretary of State must publish a draft Environment Bill by 26 December 2018, to encompass:
• a set of environmental principles
• a statement of policy on the application and interpretation of those principles by ministers
• provisions for the establishment of a public enforcement body to control ministerial compliance with environmental law.


The government has undertaken consultation (which closed in August 2018) on the future of environmental governance and principles. The House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee has raised concerns that these elements do not go far enough and should enforce compliance by all public bodies with statutory environmental principles.


Pending passing of a new Environmental Act, The EU (Withdrawal) Act is meant to replicate the existing body of legislation. However, conversion into British law is particularly difficult where existing legislation and processes are reliant on cooperation between EU members.

One example is the movement of waste between Northern and Southern Ireland; EU law prohibits transfer of waste to a non-EU country that is not a member of EFTA and a party to the Basel Convention.

Further complications and challenges arise from the status of devolved administrations having responsibility for environmental matters on which they can and do take different policy positions, causing potential difficulties on transboundary issues.


External Sources
September 2018 Journal of the Town & Country Planning Association: ‘Where did that come from?’, Pritchard, B.