The Prime Minister’s speech
in Florence stated that the UK and EU share a commitment to high environmental standards, and outlined her preference for a new economic relationship that is underpinned by those standards. However, the UK’s recent position paper
on Northern Ireland and Ireland made only one mention of the environment, simply referencing it as one of the six areas of co-operation agreed by the North South Ministerial Council as established under the Good Friday Agreement. As such, it failed to fully appreciate the broad range of cross-border environmental matters, such as cross-border protected nature sites, that could be affected by Brexit. Although the latest round of Brexit negotiations apparently
saw a recognition on the UK side that cross-border co-operation between Northern Ireland and Ireland is built on the EU legal framework, the details of the UK’s position on how such co-operation can be maintained post-Brexit remains unclear.
The UK continues to participate in and provide inputs to EU discussions on a proposed action plan for nature and biodiversity. However, there is continued uncertainty surrounding any co-operation or co-ordination between Westminster and the devolved administrations. A promised 25 year plan for the environment is long overdue, and it remains unclear whether this would address England and Wales only, or the UK as a whole.