EU Referendum: what next?
Published: 25 Jun 2016

The referendum, announced early this morning, sets in motion an historical event - withdrawal from the European Union.

These are major changes, which certainly will not take place overnight.

EU legislation is tied to UK legislation intrinsically, which means our Government will be very busy sifting through the archives, considering, repealing, replacing and rewriting UK legislation to reflect the new position of the UK. It is a task which will take much time, years in fact.

Cedrec is the best place to stay updated with these changes as they come along. The new legislation, the old legislation and everything in between, will be analysed by our team of legal authors and consultants so we can continue to deliver our Plain English legislation to make understanding and complying with these huge changes easy.

In the case of safety law, much may stay the same. The UK's Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 is one of the most successful pieces of Health and Safety legislation in the world, and it is not EU in origin. Much environmental legislation, however, implements EU legislation based on the European Communities Act 1972. This legislation would be abolished under proposed changes proposed by the Vote Leave campaign. It would mean a large amount of amendments to environmental legislation, in order to change the enabling legislation over from EU to UK, and large amounts of EU legislation being removed completely.

How will Cedrec keep you updated?

You can trust that Cedrec will be making sure both legislation and our working document, Process of withdrawing from the European Union, are updated as changes come through, keeping you informed.

Our January 2017 Legislation Update Roadshow will this time focus on what the Brexit means for you and your company, and we're already close to finalising dates and venues. So keep an eye on our Events page, as its more crucial than ever before that you come along and keep on top of things.

In the meantime, follow Cedrec on Twitter @cedrec_news, and subscribe to our monthly bulletins for updates in our four sectors of speciality; planning, energy, environment and safety.

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The High Court has rejected a Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs' (DEFRA) proposal to delay the publication of their plans to tackle air pollution until after the general election.

Ministers had attended court on Thursday to apply to delay the publication of plans until after the general election, claiming it was necessary to do so in order to comply with pre-election propriety rules.

Mr Justice Garnham ruled that the Secretary of State, Andrea Leadsom, was in breach of a court order to take action on the UK's air pollution crisis in the shortest possible time and that any further delays would constitute a further breach. He stated that it was essential that the Government comply with the original order and that draft plans to cut air pollution are published immediately, ensuring that the final policy is published by 31 July 2017.

He commented: ''These steps are necessary in order to safeguard public health. The continued failure of the government to comply with directives and regulations constitutes a significant threat to public health.''

Government representative, James Eadie QC claimed in court that the new policy was ready to be published, but doing so would be controversial and publication should therefore be delayed until after the election. He added: ''If you publish a draft plan, it drops all the issues of controversy into the election … like dropping a controversial bomb.''

However the High Court decided the threat posed to public health due to air pollution constituted exceptional circumstances which meant that usual purdah guidelines in the run up to the general election should be waived, and the draft should be published immediately. Justice Garnham commented: ''It does not give ministers a defence to the principles of private and public law … It is not binding on the courts. It provides no immediate right for an extension of time to comply with an order of the court. It is not a trump card''.

In the UK, air pollution is linked to the premature deaths of 23,500 people each year. Chief Executive of the British Lung Foundation, Dr Penny Woods, welcomed the High Court's ruling, stating: ''The nation’s dirty air is one of the most important public health issues in recent times. The high court’s decision recognises the need to urgently tackle this crisis.''

The ruling attracted praise from many of the opposition parties as well as James Thornton, CEO of ClientEarth who had brought the original case against the government. He said: ''The government has never stopped delaying when it comes to cleaning up our air. I would urge them not to appeal and to get on with it. Enough dithering. The judge was extremely clear.''

Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, welcomed the ruling, he commented: ''Ministers were dragged kicking and screaming to face the huge scale of this health crisis but rather than take action, they used the election as a smokescreen to hold back their plan.''

Transport for London (TfL) is preparing to spend £18 million on upgrading London's power grid, in order to supply electricity to charging ports for the first generation of electric black cabs.

In an effort to cut down on the toxic air pollution in the capital, all new black cabs must be battery powered from 1 January 2018.

300 rapid charge ports will be installed by 2020, by Centrica, the owner of British Gas.

75 charging ports will be installed by the end of this year, and some of the ports will be open to electric vehicle owners. Others will remain exclusively for electric cab users.

Taxi drivers who drive a car 10 years or older will be able to claim up to £5000 from TfL towards the cost of a zero-emission taxi, which are being built in Coventry.

A new device has been invented that uses an artificial form of photosynthesis to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. The scientist that invented this device claims it could be used to reduce global warming.

The device acts in a similar way to a plant, using ultraviolet light and air to create two forms of fuel, which can then be used to create power.

Professor Fernando Uribe-Romo said:

"It's like photosynthesis, in which plants pick up sunlight and carbon dioxide and turn it into a sugar. In this case, instead of having a plant we have materials. . . that capture the sunlight and turn the carbon dioxide into something similar to sugar."

He has suggested many uses for this invention including use near power plants to recycle some of the carbon dioxide they produce and turn it back into fuel for the power plant. Another idea was that roof tiles could be made from the material, which would produce fuel while improving the local air quality.

Professor Fernando Uribe-Romo has admitted that these ideas may not be easy to put into action, but with "new technology and infrastructure. . . it may be possible".

An international standard to help businesses develop and implement sustainable purchasing practices and policies has been published, the first of its kind.

ISO 20400 for sustainable procurement, published by the International Organisation for Standardisation helps companies to analyse their supply chains for ethical and environmental impacts.

The standard aims to assist organsations in meeting their sustainability responsibilities by providing an understanding of:

  • what sustainable procurement is;
  • what the sustainability impacts and considerations are across the different aspects of procurement activity including policy, strategy, organisation and process;
  • how to implement sustainable procurement.

It is hoped that through integrating sustainability in procurement policies and practices, including supply chains, organisations can manage risks and opportunities for sustainable environmental, social and economic development.

Jacques Schramm, Chair of ISO/PC 277, the project committee that developed the standard, said:

"It is no longer enough for businesses to rely on suppliers to provide them with what they want, no questions asked. Organisations benefit greatly from getting to know their suppliers – understanding what their requirements are as well – to ensure their demands are not unrealistic and that the suppliers they work with have good, ethical practices."

Mandatory measures to force councils to provide for separate collections of food waste appear to have been ruled out by Resources Minister Dr Therese Coffey.

Giving evidence at the Environment Food and Rural Affairs Committee hearing into food waste, Dr Coffey said: ''One of the things I have been interested in doing, of course, yesterday’s events [the announcement of an early General Election] bring it somewhat to a pause at the moment, is to do more to encourage councils to be more proactive in their approaches to how they undertake recycling initiatives. WRAP [Waste & Resources Action Programme] is doing ongoing work with our officials on elements of that. I do not think we are at the stage at which we need to be considering mandatory approaches. There are certain rules already in place about separate collections and so on. To go to one extreme, where a household is required to have seven or eight bins, is in my view not appropriate. It feels like using a sledgehammer to crack a nut.''

She also emphasised the importance of voluntary measures to encourage businesses to reduce food waste and report on their progress in doing so.

Dr Coffey also discussed that she was keen to see improvements across major cities in terms of their recycling rates. She acknowledged that retailers have an important role to play in reducing consumer food waste but further regulation would not be an effective way to encourage them. Instead, existing voluntary arrangements like the Courtauld Commitment which sets a voluntary target to reduce food waste from the grocery supply chain by 20% by 2025, would continue.

The hearing also questioned Dr Coffey as to whether the government would consider the possibility of introducing legislation which requires all businesses of a certain size to have a policy in place to redistribute food, a policy already adopted in France.

She commented: ''Like for like, in terms of population and the size of the food industry, we have redistribution on a comparable level, I’m not saying in exact terms of volume, because the food industry in France is a lot bigger than the equivalent in the UK. I think we are already achieving similar outcomes without the need for further regulation.''

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