Update August 2023:

Despite public action to share concern about the devastating impact of the Retained EU Law Bill on our environment; the Bill has now been made an Act of Parliament. Over 116 MPs were contacted by you to raise these issues and propose major changes to the Bill. Unfortunately, the amendments were withdrawn in the final Retained EU Law Bill debate in the House of Lords after the government made it clear that they would oppose them again.

This Act means that current and future governments will find it easier to reduce or even completely remove legislative protections for species, habitats and the wider environment with little consultation and without sufficient parliamentary scrutiny. We have already seen this affecting Britain’s rivers, with increased sewage being dumped into our waterways.

Legal protection for endangered species and their homes has been crucial in assisting many threatened species to begin to recover from major declines.

The Act WEAKENS species protection and has the potential to cause SIGNIFICANT HARM to our environment.

Ministers have promised, on several occasions that they “will not lower environmental protections or standards”

Now we need to make sure that these repeated promises by government ministers are kept.
We’re asking you to sign the Nature 2030 open letter calling on all political parties to adopt a five-point plan for wildlife in their manifestos for the next General Election, likely to take place in 2024.

Click the link to visit the Nature 2030 page on the Wildlife Trusts’ website.

#StandUpForNature and sign the open letter today.

The Background

On The 10th of May 2023, the government announced that the approximate 4800 EU Laws up for scrap via the Retained EU Law Bill at the end of the year, has been reduced to 600. This is fantastic news! However, this is only one battle, and we must continue to put pressure on our government. An enormous 341 of the 600 EU Laws on the chopping block still relate to the environment. These include essential habitat regulations, air pollution transparency rules, as well as laws relating to water management and pesticides. Furthermore, Business Secretary Kemi Badenoch said the list is not “the limit of the government’s ambition”. This shows the government has retreated for now, but don’t be fooled, they are just waiting for the heat to die down. We can’t let it.

The laws at risk include habitat regulations, the purpose of which is to determine whether building development would have an adverse effect on European designated habitats and species, such as the Eurasian Otter.

Why is this important? If it is found development would harm the species, it can only take place if compensatory measures are taken, which effectively drives away infrastructure on important habitats. This is particularly important for the survival of otters, which rely on tree roots in the aesthetically appealing habitats for infrastructure, wetlands, to raise their pups. Research backs up the importance of these laws, as the most important factor in a species resilience to climate change, was found to be whether these regulations apply.

Furthermore, other EU environmental laws cover water quality, sewage pollution and the use of pesticides. As semi-aquatic animals, high water quality is vital to the species’ existence. In the latter half of the 20th century, a large reason for their nationwide disastrous population decline was the result of industrial chemicals called PCBs and organochlorine pesticides being polluted, as they poisoned the water bodies where otters bathe, drink, and feed.

Improvements in legislature have lessened pollution and otter populations are recovering. However, toxic chemicals linked to miscarriage and cancer that have been leaked from factories are still found in otters. The potential removal of existing laws on water quality risks contaminating the species even further, and another catastrophic population decline for these fascinating and rambunctious creatures could be on the horizon.

Other laws up for scrap include air quality regulations, which are hugely important in minimising air pollution from industrial chemical companies. Polluted air leads to eutrophication and acidification of ecosystems, causing reduced agricultural productivity, permanent ecosystem damage, and loss of biodiversity.

In addition, the Wildlife and Countryside Link did a compelling piece of economic analysis which shows that the cost of dropping or weakening EU environmental laws in just 4 sectors could reach over £82billion over 30 years! The costs would also be far higher as this only accounts for a small proportion of the 1000+ laws in scope.

Take action against Revoke and Reform here.