Wake up to zombie laws
GROUP of MPS is calling for a new Environmental Protection Act to be in place before Article 50 is triggered to pre-empt the UK no longer being subject to EU directives on birds and habitats. The Environmental Audit Committee (EAC), chaired by former Shadow Defra Secretary Mary Creagh, warns against sleepwalking into ‘zombie law’—eu law weakened through the Great Repeal Bill. It says the Government must not ‘trade away’ environmental protection, animal welfare and food-safety standards.
The CLA agrees with the sentiment, but thinks a new Act is going too far. ‘The Government should transpose existing EU commitments into UK law, then decide what needs to change, rather than creating more confusion,’ advises Christopher Price.
The legal challenge is daunting, with some 800 pieces of EU environmental and farming legislation to sort out. Defra Secretary Andrea Leadsom estimates that two-thirds can be rolled forward with ‘just some technical challenges’, but that the rest can’t. ‘We have a very clear court process that will absolutely be able to uphold the legislation that we undertake to take into UK law through the Great Repeal Bill,’ she explains. The National Trust’s Patrick Begg warns the EAC that forcing UK farmers to compete with countries such as Brazil or Argentina could mean that the landscape is ‘sacrificed on the altar of that competitiveness treadmill’. The NFU’S Guy Smith agrees, citing the use of hormones in beef farming in South America. KG
ATreasury? I hae ma doots!’ commented MSP Calum Kerr. ‘Of course, we have to consult and negotiate, but there are huge questions about core principles. This is why “Brexit means Brexit” is a bad statement. We need leadership.’ KG warmth-loving insects and (consequentially) their predators.
‘In the 10 years we’ve been reviewing wildlife, we’ve noticed pulses of unsettled weather become the norm. We last enjoyed a good summer in 2006,’ says National Trust nature expert Matthew Oates, who also points out that common-wasp numbers have slumped in many parts of the country, along with meadowland insects such as the common blue butterfly. ‘This could have a knock-on effect on the invertebrates, birds and bats that eat them. And what affects insects today could well affect us tomorrow.
‘Long term,’ continues Mr Oates, ‘changes in how we manage land have led to wildlife declines, with more than half of species experiencing a drop in numbers in the past 50 years, but one of the great successes of the past decade has been the way farmers and conservationists have worked together to reverse wildlife declines.’
The lapwing may no longer benefit from European protection
A major exhibition of works by Rex Whistler, one of Britain’s most exceptional, but overlooked 20th-century artists, goes on display at the home of his final great artwork (a trompe l’oeil ‘Gothic vaulted’ entrance hall), created before he was killed in action during the Second World War.
‘Rex Whistler: More than Murals’ is at the National Trust’s Mottisfont, Hampshire, from January 14 to April 23 and includes his paintings, portraits, designs, illustrations for books and advertisements, sketch-books and letters as well as personal items including the artist’s paintbox.