BREXIT and the Future of UK Environmental Law

Colin T. Reid (Lead / Corresponding author)

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The UK’s decision to leave the EU will have major consequences for environmental law. EU law is integrated into the UK’s laws in many ways that will be difficult to disentangle and a continuity of laws provision seems desirable in order to avoid gaps in the law appearing. The internal effect of devolution is that most environmental matters will in future be the responsibility the devolved administrations. The UK’s freedom of action will continue to be restrained by obligations in international law, including those establishing a new relationship with the EU. Environmental law in the UK has changed greatly during the four decades of its membership of the EU and most of the innovations introduced through the EU are likely to be retained, although there may be a wish to restore more discretion over the outcomes to be achieved as opposed to having strict obligations to satisfy targets and standards. In structural terms the biggest changes are likely to be the loss of the stability provided by the slow processes of making and changing EU law and the loss of means to call the UK and devolved governments to account over their performance in meeting their environmental commitments.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)407-415
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Energy and Natural Resources Law
Issue number4
Early online date14 Sept 2016
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2016


  • Environmental law
  • UK and EU
  • Withdrawal from EU
  • Brexit
  • International Obligations
  • Devolution
  • Government Accountability


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  • Willoughby Prize

    Reid, C. (Recipient), Jun 2017

    Prize: Prize (including medals and awards)

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