CIEH join group of Environmental Organisations expressing concern with UK Government deregulation

18 October 2022, Ciaran Donaghy

The Chartered Institute of Environmental Health (CIEH) have signed a joint letter alongside several environmental organisations who expressed concern that the UK Government’s new The Retained EU Law (Revocation and Reform) Bill 2022 could see many regulations protecting our country’s food, environment, and public health, simply disappear.

The Environmental Policy Forum (EPF), convened by the Society for the Environment, is a coalition of 13 professional bodies, including CIEH, representing around 70,000 environmental professionals across a variety of different disciplines.

The letter, submitted to Prime Minister Liz Truss, Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng, BEIS Secretary Jacob Rees Mogg, DEFRA Secretary Ranil Jayawardena, Levelling Up Secretary Simon Clarke, and Climate Change Minister Graham Stuart, expresses concerns that the UK government’s recently tabled Retained EU Law (Revocation and Reform) Bill represent significantly regressive policies on nature protections that are both at odds with the evidence and with the 2019 Conservative Manifesto on which this Government was elected.

Heralded by the UK Government as a way to effectively draw a line under Brexit, put the UK statute book on a more sustainable footing, and end the special status of retained EU Law, the Bill is being presented as an effort to reclaim the sovereignty of Parliament and restore primacy to Acts of Parliament.

However, the ramifications of the Bill are incredibly concerning, and could threaten the UK’s regulatory frameworks in crucial areas such as food and environmental protection.

The Joint Letter expresses considerable concerns that the Bill threatens regulatory frameworks which ensure environmental protection and builds upon previous comments from CIEH arguing that the Bill will significantly threaten environmental and public health.

Protections at risk of such an approach include:

  • Obligations to label food for allergens to consumers
  • GMO food and feed being placed on the UK market without any food safety assessment taking place, nor any obligation to label such food for consumers
  • Legal limits on chemical contaminants in food, with possible consequences to human health
  • Restrictions on use of decontaminants on meat, such as the chlorine washes on chicken, and businesses’ minimum hygiene standards
  • Protections in relation to the safety and compositional standards of baby foods. Without legal standards, there would be no enforcement leaving some of our most vulnerable groups, and the public more generally, without any substantive protection

CIEH is now working with a coalition of MPs and Peers from across the political spectrum to urgently gain clarity from the government about their intentions and to ascertain how they will ensure that our food, environment, and public health standards are protected in this deregulatory agenda.

Ross Matthewman, Head of Policy and Campaigns at CIEH, said:

“We are delighted to work alongside a number of reputable organisations representing thousands of environmental professionals across the country in expressing concern regarding the UK Government’s direction of travel towards a more deregulatory approach to frameworks which ensure good public health.

While we have already expressed our concerns on numerous occasions, we hope that the government will pay attention to a coalition of environmental organisations with considerable expertise when we say that this Bill represents a regressive step backwards in terms of environmental protection.

At some point the government must take their head out of the sand and listen to experts and halt this regressive backsliding of our regulatory frameworks.

There seems to be real danger that this bill puts at risk the high standards our country has with respect to environmental health. It threatens our regulatory frameworks in crucial areas such as food and environmental protection and will have negative consequences for public health.

We are working with MPs and Peers to ensure that these concerns are heard by the UK Government and to find out what steps they intend to take to ensure that we do not throw away our safety.”

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