Divergence in environmental policy post Brexit: Some initial reflections

The way in which environmental legislation is developed, agreed and then implemented in the UK has changed fundamentally since Brexit. The full consequences of Brexit for environmental policy and law are too early to judge but unquestionably the first signs of divergence are occurring and this merits close attention.

For several decades EU and UK environmental law and policy have shared much the same foundations and provisions, with the majority of environmental law agreed at a European level. Now, with the withdrawal of the UK from the EU, as each side goes its separate ways, there is the potential for environmental law and policy to diverge. This will have a range of implications, not least for the protection of health and the environment.

Whether this is a matter of any concern, or perhaps a new opportunity, may not be immediately obvious. For the moment at least, the UK and EU broadly share a similar outlook on the need for environmental progress and a largely common body of law.

This paper includes a short reflection on why, despite the parallels, this may be a topic of interest meriting further scrutiny. Different elements of divergence are explored in an elementary typology, leading to a consideration of some of the kinds of divergence that are beginning to emerge between the EU and the UK.