Post-Brexit laws may damage environment

The UK’s touted Great Repeal Bill after Brexit could spark a “bonfire of environmental regulations” leading to a disparity in protections on either side of the Irish Border, a conference has heard.

The Bill has been talked about by UK government ministers as a potential mechanism to repeal EU-influenced legislation from the domestic statute book immediately after Brexit.

Mairead McGuinness MEP told the conference, Brexit: Implications for the Environment on the Island of Ireland that the potential resultant diminution of standards in Northern Ireland was “an appalling vista”.

“I’m very troubled about the idea of a Great Repeal Bill if it allows for the elimination of some core elements of environmental law by the United Kingdom in a post-Brexit era,” she told delegates at the conference in Dundalk on Friday.

She added, “We are committed to making sure we don’t dilute, diminish or dump any of our standards, and that we discourage in the strongest way possible the United Kingdom from even thinking about going down that road.

“Pulling away from hard-fought rules and regulations on environment, food safety and public health would be an appalling vista in 2017 and we cannot allow that to happen in a post-Brexit era,” added Ms McGuinness, also referencing the start of formal Brexit negotiations next Monday.

Sinn Féin MEP Lynn Boylan said the UK may choose to “disentangle” itself from some 800 pieces of EU environment legislation that have been transposed into domestic law over recent decades, and that offer vital protections for vulnerable habitats which straddle both sides of the Border.