Brexit & Environmental Regulation: A brief overview

Much of the UK Regulation on the environment have origins to the European Union. Research conducted by the House of Commons Library show 141 EU directives in the area of environment, consumer and health protection and 527 pieces of directly applicable legislation, including regulations and decisions. With Brexit approaching it is necessary for the law to be amended to ensure that on exit day there is no legal uncertainty.
The main way in which EU law is brought into UK is through the European Communities Act 1972. The European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018 will repeal the European Communities Act 1972, ceasing the flow of EU law and converts EU law that applies in the UK before exit day into domestic law. It is necessary to bring EU law into domestic law on exit day to ensure there is no legal uncertainty. For example, the EU’s regulation on cosmetic products sets out the rules on the assessment, surveillance and labelling of cosmetic products like shampoo. At one-minute past midnight on exit day if EU law was not converted, the rules on cosmetic products would cease to apply. There would be no rules on what labels on shampoo bottles produced in the UK would need to say.
As EU laws refer to EU institutions of which the UK will no longer be a member, such as the European Commission or the European Chemicals Agency it will necessary to correct ‘deficiencies’ with the retained EU laws. The European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018 allows for deficiencies to be corrected to ensure on exit day laws function properly. An example is the Timber and Timber Products and FLEGT licence regimes. In the longer term, new laws will need to be created/ replaced and UK wide frameworks established, for example on chemical regulation.