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Repatriating powers to Whitehall alone not enough to protect environment, RTPI says

06 December 2017

The repatriation of powers to Whitehall alone after Brexit is not enough to uphold existing planning and environment related EU directives, the implementation of which are highly devolved, the RTPI says.

Powers need to be repatriated to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland in order for each nation to have the authority and obligations to directly implement devolved functions carried over from existing EU directives such as those covering waste, water, habitat and air pollution, according to RTPI’s response to a parliamentary inquiry into devolution and Brexit.

The current proposals for the repatriation of powers do not require the consent of the Northern Irish, Scottish or Welsh governments. This would put the UK Government in breach of the Sewell Convention. But more crucially, without their consent, environmental standards and arrangements will be more difficult to implement and risk losing effectiveness and local contexts.

The RTPI reiterates the need for a new overseeing and enforcement body to replace the EU. This will operate with an underpinning framework agreed between all the national governments for various policy areas.

This body would ensure continuity in policies, consistency across shared outcomes – particularly important to address long term environmental issues - and necessary actions taken against those not following the framework.

Richard Blyth FRTPI, RTPI Head of Policy, Research and Practice, said:

“In order to maintain and improve the environmental standards we are renowned for, we must empower the nations of the UK to continue to meet agreed environmental outcomes in their own way, so they can take account of the local context.

“A new body should be established to oversee this and hold nations to account if necessary. We think this approach will give the UK the best chance of continuity in environmental policy and maintaining of quality and standards.”

Read the RTPI’s written evidence to the Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee on Devolution and Exiting the EU Inquiry here.