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UK Environmental Law Post Brexit

Veerle Heyvaert and Aleksandra Čavoški

elni Review 2017, Issue 1, pp. 2-10.

While much of the post referendum Brexit discussion has focused on economic and constitutional issues, the future of environmental law and policies has received much less attention. Environmental protection barely featured as a campaign issue on either side of the referendum debate, and it is notably overlooked in the Brexit White Paper. Yet UK environmental law is deeply rooted in EU law and policies, and departure from the EU may herald significant changes within national law. Environmental law covers a broad range of public policies including biodiversity protection, air and water quality control, climate change and waste management, and deeply impacts other key domestic policies such as agriculture, transport, industrial and energy policy. Moreover, uncertainty in environmental regulation significantly jeopardises its chance of effectiveness. Therefore, careful reflection on the impact of Brexit on environmental law is essential.
This article investigates what a gradual repatriation of EU law might mean, for specific areas (climate, ETS, biodiversity, air and water), for public authorities but also for civil society. The authors of this article envisage how cooperation between the UK and the EU could actually proceed in the future, on environmental law issues. Because there is actually no escape, or rather “an inescapable physical reality”: environmental problems will continue to require concerted action.

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