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London mayor worried about Brexit impact on environment

Staff Writer |
The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has expressed his deep concern about the impact of Britain leaving the European Union on the environment – and on air pollution in particular.

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In an official report about the impact of Brexit on London, the Mayor calls on ministers to ‘guarantee’ that environmental regulations, monitoring and enforcement standards will be strengthened in the aftermath of Brexit, rather than weakened.

European Union regulations have overall had a hugely positive impact on Britain’s environment.

They have led to British homes, vehicles and appliances becoming more energy-efficient, waterways becoming cleaner, a decline in harmful emissions and a reduction in the amount of waste produced in Britain.

Only last year, European Union regulations were used in a legal case by Client Earth, in which the Mayor was an interested party, to force the government to come forward with a new air quality strategy by the end of March – bringing quality back within legal limits.

However, the Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Andrea Leadsom MP, recently told Parliament’s Environmental Audit Committee that only two-thirds of EU environmental regulations would be directly brought into British law.

Furthermore, there are serious challenges to recreating monitoring and enforcement schemes that are currently run by the EU – and have no equivalent in British law.

The mayor, in London’s official response to the government’s Brexit White Paper, is calling on the government to introduce a new Environment Act, to guarantee that environmental regulations and enforcements are at least equivalent, if not better, than the current EU standards.

This would include enshrining key EU safeguarding principles in British law, including the "polluter pays" concept, "environmental rights for citizens" and the "precautionary principle" - so lack of knowledge is not used as an excuse for poor decisions.

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