DEFRA Update (UK Brexit)

Exit day is 12th April

This morning the DEFRA Secretary was before the House of Lords EU Energy and Environment Sub-Committee, updating on UK Brexit preparations and arrangements.

(1) A second REACH SI will be issued, this will be additional to the existing SI that was re-issued recently – in draft still. These two Statutory Instruments (SIs) will seek to address the deficiencies raised by the Chemical Industries Association and others.

(2) All 120 DEFRA SIs are now laid, 8 are not yet enacted, including the second REACH SI. These are expected to be enacted by 12th April.

[Please continue to follow the Brexit Law List in subscribers’ Cardinal Environment EHS Legislation Registers and Checklists. Note : some of these SIs are lengthy, and each may correct deficiencies in lots of different existing UK laws. We will begin work on these Brexit SIs to consolidate the text into existing laws supplied before 12th April.]

[The Brexit Law List includes SIs issued by other Government departments, additional to DEFRA, pertaining to ENV and OHS. I posted recently that all Brexit SIs had now been laid, across all government departments.]

(3) A ‘Shadow Body’ will carry out work (as respects environmental governance – outside the EU, a governance gap is identified) in the interim after 12th April, until the Office for Environmental Protection has been set up under the Environmental Principles and Governance Bill (which is not enacted, and is stacked above the Brexit Bills in terms of their landing as enacted Acts, and indeed may not be enacted in this Parliament).

I posted before about the Environment Bill – the Principles and Governance Bill is one part of the Environment Bill that was promised by the UK Prime Minister and confirmed by the DEFRA Secretary – the full Environment Bill is not published, and the DEFRA Secretary said nothing this morning about progress, nor was he asked any question about it.

Office and staffing resources have been identified for the Shadow Body, and a “distinguished lawyer” has been approached to chair it. DEFRA will release details as soon as it is possible.

The job of the Shadow Body will be to refer infringements to the Office for Environmental Protection. “The full rigour of the law will be used in the interim against offenders”.

(4) Sector instructions are issued re waste storage, and the Environment Agency (EA) – I posted yesterday about the EA temporary regulatory policy statements.

(5) Dynamic regulatory alignment will be maintained with EU (animal and animal product) standards for the rest of this year, in order to achieve listing as a Third Country for live animal and animal product exports to continue to the EU, and across the international border on the island of Ireland.

This listing is not yet confirmed, but confirmation is expected by 12th April.

DEFRA will intervene to support in vulnerable sectors, the example given is headage payments per ewe to sheep farmers re sheep meat.

(6) Dynamic regulatory alignment (animal and plant standards) will be maintained for the rest of this year, to continue access to EU TRACES (IT system). The EU TRACES system is – here.

Again, continuity of access is not yet confirmed. Ireland has made an offer, which the UK has accepted.

(7) As an independent coastal state, UK would have the right to stop vessels fishing in UK waters. But, the policy is for a continuity approach respecting the quotas and access agreements reached in the EU December Council, for the rest of 2019.

(8) The IPAFFS (UK IT system for animal and animal product imports) is up and running. The UK IPAFFS system is – here.

[TRACES must be used until 12th April.]

(9) The AVLS (existing UK IT system for animal, animal product, plants and plant product imports) interfaces with the new Brexit HMRC systems, and the PEACH system (I posted about PEACH recently) as set out here.

[the Exit day may change, please continue to follow this Blog]

Environment Watchdog Bill (UK Brexit)

DEFRA has just published its draft Environment (Principles and Governance) Bill. This document is here.

The consultation response is here.

This Brexit bill is necessary because without oversight of the EU institutions and mechanisms, environmental governance in the U.K. would face gaps.

The draft Environment (Principles and Governance) Bill sets out how the government will maintain environmental standards as the UK leaves the EU. It also details how the UK will build on the vision of the 25 Year Environment Plan.

This includes creating an independent body – the Office for Environmental Protection (OEP) – which will:

• scrutinise environmental law and the government’s environmental improvement plan (EIP)

• investigate complaints on environmental law

• take enforcement action on environmental law

The draft Bill commits the government to publishing a policy statement which will set out how ministers should interpret and apply environmental principles. It also commits government to have a plan for environmental improvement.

In essence this Bill is the first part of the broader Environment Bill (not yet published). The broader Environment Bill will also include measures on air quality, nature recovery, waste and resource efficiency and water management. A policy paper is also published today (in connection with the Environment Bill). This policy paper is here.

New Environment Bill (UK)

Today 18th July (in fact just now), the UK Prime Minister announced the Government will bring forward the first Environment Bill since 1995. This is a highly significant development. At the Liaison Committee (of select committee chairs) underway at the moment, Mrs May stated this would encompass more ambitious objectives for air quality and also the opportunities that leaving the EU might bring.

I will issue a new Blog post when further detail is published. And obviously, in due course, Email Alert(s) will be issued to subscribers to the Cardinal Environment EHS Legislation Registers and Law Checklists.