Most of the UK’s environmental protections stem from EU law and so could be changed as a result of Brexit. Greener UK has created this Risk Tracker to show which policy areas are more secure, and which are most at risk. We hope the UK government will go further than simply safeguarding protections, to take advantage of the great opportunity of restoring nature and our natural resources within a generation, as set out in the Greener UK vision.
in December 2016 found that 80 per cent of the British public think the UK should have the same or stronger levels of environmental protection after we leave the EU. But pressure to agree new trade deals and remove regulations could lead the government to water down standards, leaving nature worse off and potentially threatening public health.
We have assigned traffic light ratings to each significant policy area, to indicate low (green), medium (amber) or high risk (red). Click on a traffic light icon for our analysis of the level of risk and to see the supporting evidence in the UK government’s statements and track record.
Update period: June 2016 - June 2017
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This update period, which covers the 12 months beginning with the EU referendum in June 2016, included the following events: the publication of a white paper on Brexit, outlining the UK government’s negotiating priorities in February 2017; the triggering of Article 50 in March 2017; the Great Repeal Bill White Paper published in March 2017; and the 2017 general election.
Update period: July - September 2017
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This update period included the following events: publication and second reading of the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill; a major speech by environment secretary Michael Gove at the WWF headquarters; publication of several UK government position papers, including one on foreign policy and one on Northern Ireland and Ireland; and the prime minister’s third major speech on Brexit in Florence.
Update period: October 2017 - mid-January 2018
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This update period included the following events: committee stage and third reading of the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill; agreement between UK and EU negotiators that “sufficient progress” has been made to move to phase two of the Brexit negotiations; a major speech by Environment Secretary Michael Gove on farming; and a major speech by Prime Minister Theresa May to launch the 25 year environment plan.
Update period: February 2018 – April 2018
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This update period included the following events: agreement between UK and EU negotiators on a time bound transition period after 19 March 2019, with discussions on the nature of future agreement now about to get underway; the EU’s publication of guidelines for negotiations on the future relationship; committee stage of the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill in the House of Lords; the publication of Defra’s farming policy consultation paper; several speeches by ministers including the chancellor and foreign secretary, and a speech by the prime minister at Mansion House, where she laid out her five tests for a final agreement with the EU.
We have outlined the environmental protections that the UK has had as a member of the EU as a starting point for measurement: see our EU baseline information.
Note that this tracker only covers policy in the UK (where it is not devolved) and England (where policy is governed from Westminster). It excludes areas of policy that are devolved to other UK countries.
The Greener UK Brexit Risk Tracker is edited by Amy Mount, head of the Greener UK unit at Green Alliance, with support from Gemma Wells and Stephen Hinchley, RSPB. The expert contributors are: Simon Alcock, ClientEarth (air quality); Michael Warhurst and Andrea Speranza, Chem Trust (chemicals); Chaitanya Kumar, Green Alliance (climate and energy); Lyndsey Dodds and Rhona Kent, WWF (fisheries); Tom Lancaster and Juliette Young, RSPB (land use); Alistair Taylor, RSPB (nature); Libby Peake, Green Alliance (waste and resources); and Hannah Freeman, WWT (water).