Key EU-inspired energy efficiency and water protections risk being watered down in the courts if they fail to be fully incorporated into UK law, peers have warned during a House of Lords debate last night (18 April).
The debate on the EU withdrawal bill, which saw the government lose a vote on its policy to leave the bloc’s customs union, also addressed directives.
Lord Deben, chair of the Committee for Climate Change, tabled an amendment to the bill giving parliament a say over protecting environmental and other safeguards enshrined in EU directives.
Backing the former Conservative environment secretary’s amendment, Labour peer Baroness Jones expressed concern that a host of EU directives had not yet to be transposed into UK law.
These included Article 5 of the energy efficiency directive, which she said raised the risk that public bodies will not have to ensure that their buildings adhere to the EU’s energy performance requirements.
She also raised concerns that the water framework directive’s requirement that water pricing policies provide adequate incentives to use water efficiently had yet to be transposed too.
Baroness Jones said: “This amendment is important to fill the governance gap which will occur when we no longer have to abide by EU policies or report on progress to EU institutions. It also protects our environment against inadvertent errors or incomplete transpositions, which, sadly but inevitably, will occur.”
Government whip Baroness Goldie defended the government’s stance that EU requirements, which were not fully incorporated into UK domestic law, should be protected via the courts.
The amendment was not pushed to a vote by Lord Deben.