Keep EU environmental legislation post-Brexit, urge manufacturers

Manufacturers want to see EU environmental legislation transposed to a post-Brexit Britain, but also recognise an opportunity to cut 'red tape' and explore a simpler, more UK-specific approach to green policy.

Those are the key findings of a new report released today (21 September) by the manufacturers’ association EEF in partnership with global law firm Squire Patton Boggs.

The report reveals that less than a quarter (23%) of the 500 EEF members questioned believe the UK should not adopt EU waste directives and, even when it comes to EU chemicals legislation – potentially one of the most ambitious and burdensome for industry – still less than a quarter of firms want to see it dropped (23%).

EEF suggests that the “significant investments” made by businesses in accordance with the current legislation – such as improving air quality in accordance with the EU Industrial Emissions Directive – means that discarding this legislation could undermine investment and hinder the incentive for businesses to tackle industrial emissions on a global scale.

Head of energy and environment policy at EEF Claire Jakobsson said: “The dangers of a hasty Brexit are clear and nowhere is this more evident than when looking at the wealth of EU environmental regulations and directives, many of which have supported better behaviours and outcomes, but have also involved considerable investment.

REACH regulation

“In the short-term, we want Government to provide regulatory and policy certainty in this important arena. But in the longer-term there is clearly an opportunity to pull back from EU regulation where it does not work for the UK. This requires careful exploration to ensure there are no unintended consequences and we would want to see manufacturers fully consulted before any decisions are made.”

A specific example of legislation that the report calls upon the UK Government to proceed with is the Restriction, Evaluation and Authorisation of Chemicals (REACH) regulatory system that is already in the implementation process. Discarding this legislation could lead to uncertainty and hurt long-term business planning, suggests the report.

However, longer-term, manufacturers also see opportunity in Brexit to “streamline” environmental regulation that is proving a detriment to long-term business planning. Longer-term-focused businesses see an opportunity to reform legislation to protect themselves from supply and price volatility; drive innovation and reduce harmful emissions, according to the report.

Alex Baldwin

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