Brexit and the Natural Environment

Here you will find information on Brexit, links to key documents, an outline of our activities related to Brexit and the resulting changes in legislation.

Latest Update

A number of members have enquired about the implications of the UK leaving the EU on themselves and their organisations. Below are our recommendations for the most common questions:

  • We are not aware of any implications for professional recognition as ecology is not a regulated profession anywhere in the EU as far as we are aware.
  • We recommend that any members who work across UK-EU borders to check with their insurance providers that they are covered.

Further information for:

Brexit Background

On 23rd June 2016, the Conservative Party held a referendum on the UK’s membership of the European Union (EU). The referendum result was a narrow majority in favour of leaving the EU. We issued a statement immediately after the result was announced, and a follow up statement a week later.

The UK government published the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill on 13th July 2017, which transfers all existing EU law into domestic ‘retained EU law’ and gives powers to UK Ministers to change or remove this retained law. We have looked at the potential concerns for the environmental sector. The Withdrawal Bill received Royal Assent on 26th June 2018 and was written into law as the Withdrawal Act.

In January 2020, the European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Act 2020 was also passed in Parliament. This makes provisions for ratifying the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement which sets the terms of the UK’s withdrawal from the EU. The UK left the EU on 31 January 2020. We are now in a transition period until 31 December 2020 when the UK will leave the single market. A no-deal outcome is the default if a deal is not agreed before this time and an extension is not granted.

Implications for Ecology and Environmental Management

Most of the UK’s wildlife and environmental legislation is based on EU legislation. Changes to the legislation, under which most of the UK ecology and nature conservation profession works, will have potentially profound and serious implications for our members and the sector.

We are working to have as much positive influence on the changes to legislation in relation to the natural environment as possible. The key pieces of legislation relate to environment, agriculture and fisheries. Trade legislation will also have significant implications for the environment in relation to trade standards.

CIEEM Engagement and Activities

Key Messages

Following the work of Brexit Task Groups, we distilled our three key messages, which you can view below.

Brexit Key Messages

Biodiversity Net Gain Briefing

Since producing our Key Messages, the UK Government has brought forward the Environment Act which established an independent environment scrutiny body, the Office for Environmental Protection. We responded to the consultation on this body with a number of concerns, most notably, the lack of enforcement powers given to the body in the consultation document.

Disseminating our Key Messages to Policy and Decision-Makers

We have ongoing relationships with governments, relevant departments and statutory agencies in the UK, devolved nations and Ireland, and with relevant Select Committees. In 2017, we started a programme of meetings with Westminster parliamentarians to discuss our key messages and have held several roundtable events since on topics such as biodiversity net gain.

Partnership Working

Since late-2016, we have been working closely with the Environmental Policy Forum (an umbrella group of environmental professional bodies and learned societies) on sharing information and collaborating on our respective Brexit policy work where appropriate. We are also a supporter member of Greener UK and work closely with Wildlife and Countryside Link, the UK Environmental Law Association (UKELA), the Law Society, and the Association of Local Government Ecologists (ALGE).

Survey of CIEEM Members: Pre-Referendum

We took a survey of our members to ask their views on the impacts of a possible Brexit in relation to the natural environment and the sector. The results show overwhelming support for remaining a member of the EU.

Read the survey report

Commercial Impacts of Brexit on the Ecology and Environmental Management Sector

In the summer of 2018, we conducted a survey of both members and the wider environmental community, to determine how the Brexit vote has affected ecologists and environmental managers commercially. The survey also looked at the measures that are being considered, or have been put in place, to mitigate any negative commercial impacts.

Read the survey report


Links to key information and documents, including position statements regarding Brexit, are available at our Resource hub.

Our Brexit activities are supported by:


If you or your organisation are interested in supporting our Brexit activities, please contact