Brexit: What next for ecology and the environment?

We have seen much change over the past week and there seems to be a new twist every day. Amongst all this CIEEM is reiterating that the UK is still a member of the EU and that all EU legislation, policy and regulations are still applicable and enforceable.

Even after Article 50 is invoked to start the two-year ‘divorce’ negotiations, it must be made clear that the UK will still be a member of the EU and therefore all EU legislation, policy and regulations will remain applicable and enforceable during this period. During this time we will start to better understand the UK government’s negotiations for a new relationship with the EU, what this could mean for the sector, and what intentions the UK government has for future environmental legislation. It is likely that any legal changes will then only happen sometime after the initial process is completed as the EU environmental legislation is set out in statutory instruments and it will depend on the Government at the time deciding when these changes are laid before parliament.

CIEEM has started the process of ensuring that any future changes to environmental legislation are beneficial to the natural environment. All future legislation must be underpinned by science and evidence and be informed by the fact that protecting and enhancing the natural environment requires consideration at an holistic scale. Considering the responses to the proposed public forest sell off and the review of the Nature Directives the UK public will not accept weakening of environmental legislation. The current EU body of environmental legislation will be the minimum level of new UK legislation acceptable once our exit from the EU has been negotiated.

The Governing Board has convened to discuss the issues and agreed a way forward. We have started, and will continue, to work collaboratively with all who have an interest in the natural environment to take this opportunity to work together to ensure that the sector is heard.

CIEEM will be contacting all members directly with further information and announcing opportunities for members to be involved in taking this important work forward. This may include various future scenario planning, what they might mean, and what CIEEM would need to do to ensure the best outcomes for the sector and the environment.

We must also remember that although this is an issue directly affecting the UK, the environment is a devolved competence and there could be different implications for the devolved nations. There are also potentially serious implications for Ireland (including in relation to cross-border European sites); and other countries as well.

CIEEM has agreed to publish, at an appropriate time, a future edition of In Practice on Brexit. The immediate next edition will have an update on where we are now.

More information on the referendum and ongoing external news updates can be found on our EU Referendum webpage, which we will try to keep up to date with all the changes and issues as they happen.