Town & Coun­try

Country Life Every Week - - Contents - KG

T HE Great Re­peal Bill White Pa­per pub­lished at the end of March puts the coun­try­side in the spot­light, as about 25% of the EU leg­is­la­tion that has to be adapted to Bri­tish law di­rectly ap­plies to De­fra.

Sec­re­tary of State An­drea Lead­som re­ported in Jan­uary that her depart­ment was un­pick­ing one law a week and that she ex­pected two-thirds to re­main the same and the rest to be adapted. Some in the farm­ing in­dus­try hope this is an op­por­tu­nity to lose or clar­ify bur­den­some red tape and the NFU has mooted the idea of an Agri­cul­ture Bill; en­vi­ron­men­tal­ists fear pro­tec­tion will be wa­tered down, de­spite the Gov­ern­ment’s pledge that ‘the whole body’ of EU en­vi­ron­men­tal law will ‘con­tinue to have ef­fect in UK law’. Farm­ing Min­is­ter Ge­orge Eus­tice has com­mented that Brexit should be used as an op­por­tu­nity to in­crease farm-wel­fare leg­is­la­tion.

Phil Stocker of the Na­tional Sheep As­so­ci­a­tion told a House of Lords Select Com­mit­tee this month that his in­dus­try needs a ‘more car­rots than sticks’ ap­proach: ‘The UK is al­ready renowned for its high lev­els of wel­fare and sound reg­u­la­tory plat­form and we have long made the case that im­prove­ments to flock health and dis­ease con­trol will work to main­tain this rep­u­ta­tion more than any ad­di­tional leg­is­la­tion could. The sheep in­dus­try needs help and en­cour­age­ment, not fur­ther red tape.’

Re­flect­ing the fact that nearly all ex­ported UK sheep meat goes to EU coun­tries (‘Shaggy sheep sto­ries’, March 29), Mr Stocker adds that the Gov­ern­ment needs to ‘pro­tect our own shores from cheaper lamb com­ing in, pro­duced to lower en­vi­ron­men­tal and wel­fare stan­dards’.

The RSPB is mon­i­tor­ing the de­bate closely, fear­ing the con­se­quences of los­ing the Euro­pean Court of Jus­tice. The char­ity’s Stephen Hinch­ley told

Farm­ing To­day: ‘There will need to be an on­go­ing re­la­tion­ship be­tween EU en­vi­ron­men­tal leg­is­la­tion and UK stan­dards [in re­turn] for pref­er­en­tial ac­cess to that [EU] mar­ket.’

How­ever, the RSPB’S Con­ser­va­tion Di­rec­tor Martin Harper blogs: ‘There re­mains a con­sen­sus that the vote to leave the EU was not a vote to lower en­vi­ron­men­tal stan­dards.’

CLA Pres­i­dent Ross Mur­ray adds: ‘Leav­ing the EU gives us the op­por­tu­nity to re­think as­pects of our reg­u­la­tions, but this should be done with great care. The im­me­di­ate re­quire­ment is to en­sure that all ex­ist­ing laws are ef­fec­tively trans­ferred to avoid chaos. Af­ter that, we can take a root-and-branch re­view of whether they’re ap­pro­pri­ate or not.’

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