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Brexit: Government should strike balance between continuity and opportunity to change ‘poorest’ EU regulations

Government should avoid chaos and disruption by balancing the need for regulatory continuity with the opportunity to change specific EU regulations that work poorly for rural businesses, consumers and the countryside.

Scottish Land & Estates and the CLA, which represents land businesses and farmers in England and Wales, today published a new briefing paper on the EU regulations (hyper link) that affect rural businesses and land management.

The paper underlines the importance of certainty and continuity of the majority of the regulatory framework, while also identifying a number of regulations which work poorly for the UK and should be replaced at the point of Brexit.

These include the Three Crop Rule for farmers, Plant Protection Product licensing and the one-size-fits-all approach to Energy Performance Certificates. It sets out how these regulations can be replaced with domestic alternatives that cut unnecessary red tape while delivering better outcomes for the rural economy and the environment.

David Johnstone, chairman of Scottish Land & Estates, said: “Exiting the EU will not, and should not, lead to the UK or Scottish Government seeking to change all the laws that govern it. The UK that has led the EU and the world to achieve better standards that we would not seek to reverse and in many areas current regulations should be maintained, pending longer-term review after Brexit has taken place. However, leaving the EU creates a clear opportunity to tackle the worst of the regulations established in Brussels that are holding back growth in the rural economy and environmental improvements. 

“However, there are some clear opportunities for early improvements and we ask government to ensure priority ‘quick win’ changes are ready to be put in place at the point of Brexit.

“While government should take these opportunities for swift improvement, it must avoid chaos and disruption by providing certainty about the regulatory framework as a whole. In addition, the UK will still be bound by commitments to agreements such as the Bern Convention, and to trade within the single market we need to comply with the rules that underpin it.”

Scottish Land & Estates and the CLA are proposing that government establishes a legal backstop to ensure any EU law that has not been specifically altered or removed by the point of Brexit is automatically transferred into domestic law.

The organisations have identified four priorities where replacing existing regulations could deliver better outcomes and reduce red tape:

  • UK Food, Farming and Environmental policy: Three Crop Rule –indeveloping a new policy to succeed the Common Agricultural Policy, the ‘three crop rule’ is a priority for change
  • Plant Protection Products: Licensing – introducing a transparent and less politicised process for licensing crop protection products such as gylphosate
  • Water management: Nitrates – replacing prescriptive rules with evidence-based regulations which reduce water pollution and also lessen the red tape burden
  • Buildings: Energy Performance Certificates – replacing the one-size-fits-all approach to encourage the right types of investment in energy efficiency for traditional rural properties.

A copy of the briefing paper is attached at the bottom of the page.


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