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RTPI: Whitehall having powers to protect environment post-Brexit not enough

Words: Laura Edgar
Nature / iStock-172752178

It isn’t enough for Whitehall to be repatriated with the powers to uphold existing planning and environment related EU directive following Brexit, according to the RTPI.

The institute noted that the implementation of such directives is highly devolved.

Therefore, powers need to be repatriated to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland so each nation has the authority and obligation to directly implement devolved functions carried over from existing EU directives, including those covering waste, water, habitats and air pollution.

The RTPI’s response to a Parliamentary inquiry into devolution and Brexit states that the UK Government’s current proposals for the repatriation of powers do not require the consent of Northern Irish, Scottish or Welsh governments. This puts the UK Government in breach of the Sewel Convention.

Without the consent of the devolved governments, the RTPI said the environmental standards and arrangements will be more difficult to implement and risk losing effectiveness and local contexts.

The RTPI suggests that a new overseeing and enforcement body to replace the EU is needed. The body would operate with an underpinning framework agreed between all of the government for various policy areas. It would ensure continuity in policies and consistency across shared outcomes, with actions taken against those who are not following the framework.

Richard Blyth, head of policy, research and practice at the RTPI, 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.”

The RTPI’s written evidence to the Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee on devolution and Exiting the EU inquiry can be found on the UK Parliament website.

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