Retained EU Law Act: what it means

Sets out the risks that the Scottish Government believes are posed by the UK Government’s Retained EU Law (Revocation and Reform) Act 2023.

Nature and the environment

The vast majority of retained EU law protects our natural habitats and the environment. The powers given to Ministers in the Act mean that hundreds of these laws are at risk of being removed:

  • the Habitats Regulations, which provide protections for nature against threats of building developments and other projects, could vanish
  • Ministers ability to protect sensitive marine habitats would be severely compromised leaving them at significant risk of fishing or industrial activity
  • government requirements to reduce emissions and publish its reports could be scrapped
  • public rights to access information on the environment held by public bodies could be revoked
  • restrictions on the use of Ozone Depleting Substances (ODS), that contribute to climate change, could be lifted
  • many of the regulations which govern the use of fishing gear would vanish, leaving a ‘free-for-all’ at sea with the smallest possible nets now legal

Stakeholder reaction

Scottish Environment Link

“The Scottish Government has stated that it will continue to maintain or exceed EU environmental standards in areas of devolved competence. However, we are extremely worried about the impacts this Bill will have on their ability to deliver on these commitments and critically to move ahead with a vital programme of nature restoration and protection”.

Marine Conservation Society

“The Marine Conservation Society, alongside other environmental charities, campaigned hard against this Bill due to its potential to inflict far-reaching damage to the natural world. Despite this, the UK Government has failed nature by allowing the Bill to pass without amendments that would have prevented the weakening or removal of environmental protections by current, or future, UK Governments in power. We'll be watching closely as this dangerous Bill comes into play.”

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