Retained EU Law Bill: 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) Bill, currently being considered by the UK Parliament.

Nature and the environment

The vast majority of retained EU law protects our natural habitats and the environment. The Bill’s sunset date means that hundreds of these laws are at risk of falling off the statute book at the end of 2023:

  • 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

RSPB Scotland

“The Retained EU Law (Revocation and Reform) Bill puts at risk thousands of laws that are crucial not only to conserving, and restoring the natural environment, but also to protecting public health, and creating a sustainable economy. It will also derail urgent action needed to tackle the nature and climate crisis by tying up official and parliamentary time with the unjustified review needed within a year and with no ability for Scottish Ministers to extend that period“.

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 REUL Bill cannot work in its current, proposed form. If passed, it will lead to catastrophic regulatory and environmental failures. The most logical and clear conclusion – it should be withdrawn”.

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