- About Us
- Areas of Expertise
- Instructing Us
- News & Events
Posted on: 7 November 2018
Environmental Law News UpdateTweet
In this latest Environmental Law News Update, Christopher Badger considers the Government’s response to the EAC’s recent report on the 25 year Environment Plan, further official responses to the on-going inquiry into green finance, and flaws found by the chemicals industry in the Government’s REACH plans.
Latest offering on environmental policy published
On 6 November 2018, the Environmental Audit Committee published the Government’s response to the EAC’s most recent report on the 25 Year Plan for the Environment. The response is a classic example of avoidance of the issues raised and attempts to make use of previous policy announcements to deflect attention away from the fact that there are very real risks resulting from the uncertainties created by Brexit.
The response’s wooliness can be demonstrated in the following highlights:
The Government did agree to undertake an audit of the main existing environmental targets, which will be published in due course. It rejected a call for an independent Environmental Enforcement and Audit Office, preferring to fall back on the independent watchdog. It stated that it is committed to ensuring that environmental principles have an “equivalent effect” in the UK after we leave the EU. This is not the same as ensuring environmental improvement following Brexit. In particular, despite this assurance, the response did not commit to replace the one third of EU environmental legislation (air, waste, waster, chemicals) that cannot be copied and pasted into UK law through the EU Withdrawal Act.
The full response can be found here
Further Government response on Green Finance also published
At the same time, the EAC also published the Government’s most recent response to the on-going inquiry into green finance.
The main points that arise out of this response are:
The publication comes in the wake of the publication of the FCA’s discussion paper on ‘Climate change and green finance’ and the Prudential Regulation Authority’s consultation paper on financial risks from climate change, reported on in this blog last week.
There appears to be a unique opportunity at present to be able to drive environmental outcomes, transparency, policy development and targets that Government at present appears to be unwilling to embrace. Perhaps it is the fear of straightjacketing business at a time when economic considerations are thought to be paramount or perhaps it is a lack of vision or ambition, but certainly the Government have not taken up this opportunity in its response. Would the position be different if environmental outcomes equated to short term economic gains?
The full response can be found here
Flaws pointed out in the Government’s REACH plans
Following on from our slightly critical analysis of the most recent ‘no deal’ guidance notes published by the Government, the Alliance of Chemical Associations has written to Thérèse Coffey to express its concern about DEFRA’s approach to implementing a UK REACH.
Specific concerns that are highlighted are:
The letter states that the proposed two year timeframe to re-negotiate access to data or potentially re-test and re-submit a registration under UK REACH is unrealistic. Furthermore, there are a huge number of SMEs that routinely import substances or mixtures into the UK that will now need to register under UK REACH. Further attention needs to be paid to how these new registrants will be put in touch with one another and how ‘existing UK registrants’ would be permitted to share data with new registrants when they don’t own the data in question and don’t have the authority to permit others to use that data or refer to that data.
It is estimated that it will cost a further £1 billion to comply with the Government’s current no deal proposal, which will do nothing to improve the environment and which is more likely to restrict the competitive advantages of UK businesses by reducing the number of substances available to the chemical industry.
Strong words indeed.
The full letter can be found here
We published October’s Environmental Law Podcast recently – a monthly round-up of the latest developments in environmental law.