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EU laws? How the usual suspects have the usual fake arguments

SOME MEMBERS of the House of Lords have written a letter to the Times complaining the retained EU regulations will be removed by ministers without any scrutiny – without mentioning many of the regulations would have been added to the UK statue book without any scrutiny – simply because they were EU regulations.

According to their Times letter, the unelected Lords plan to ‘speak up for democracy’ in the coming weeks by obstructing the 80-seat majority government’s manifesto pledge that: “Britain will take back control of its laws… end the supremacy of European law,… craft legislation and regulations that maintain high standards but which work best for the UK.”

The Prime Minister reiterated this commitment to the Retained EU Law Bill (REUL) in his leadership campaign last year when he promised to shred the unnecessary EU legislation in his first hundred days in office.

Instead, his Secretary of State for Business and Trade, Kemi Badenoch, has had to reduce the number of regulations to be removed from the UK statue books from 3,700 to a mere 800 in an attempt to get the unelected Lords to pass the bill. The country appears to have taken back control from unelected EU bureaucrats only to hand control to the unelected House of Lords.

But it is not just the Lords. The BBC also considers the UK government and civil servants incapable of putting in place regulations to protect the habitats of Britain’s hedgehogs, otters, moles, rabbits, hares and badgers etc. Inexplicably, the BBC program Countryfile is unaware of the multiple UK regulations, schemes and payments, presently available to UK farmers specifically for protecting wildlife habitats.

The Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) actually pays UK farmers to protect the environment rather than expecting them to earn a living from merely producing food. DEFRA has several schemes in place, the Sustainable Farming Incentive (SFI), the Countryside Stewardship program (CS), the England Woodland Creation Offer (EWCO) and Tree Health Pilot (THP). DEFRA justifies these payments to farmers as necessary for the UK to meet its legally binding environment targets and contribute to halting biodiversity loss by 2030.  The BBC’s Countryfile doesn’t appear to be aware of the UK’s legally binding environment targets.

UK taxpayers pay British farmers:

  • £22.97 per metre to create hedge rows and additional funds for hedge row management.
  • £658 per hectare for in-field grass strips for pollinators.
  • £732 per hectare for sowing seed mix that provides food for birds in winter.
  • £98 per hectare for providing shelter for invertebrates (slugs and snails).
  • £33.64 per square metre for improving drainage in an uncovered yard.
  • £19.06 for each grip block in a drainage channel to rewet moorlands and peatlands.
  • £149 per hectare for creating ‘scrub’ to be eligible the land must presently be arable or next to existing scrub or woodlands or be inhabited by a ‘target species’
  • And up to £13,000 per hectare to create new woodland.

In case you are wondering, according to Defra’s ‘Agriculture in the UK 2021’, the average revenue from milling wheat in 2021 was £1,647 per hectare, while revenue from oats for animal feed was only £761, (38% and 35% higher, respectively, than in 2020). But that is revenue, not profit. After considering the cost of production, the financial incentive for farmers to plant trees or wildflowers or bird seed instead of wheat or oats is considerable. And there are many other UK environment payments besides the ones I have mentioned.

It is impossible to read these payment schedules and believe the UK needs the EU to make its environment regulations. Yet, that is precisely what the BBC’s Countryfile programme broadcast on 16th April [20.03–30.03] would like its viewers to believe.

During the programme, Countryfile stated 80% of UK’s environment laws came from the EU, but now ‘hang in the balance’ and implied these laws could ‘disappear’ because of REUL.

That isn’t true.

Any EU law that is important to the UK has been transposed into UK law. There is even a helpful government website where you can download a spreadsheet with the retained EU laws in question and see for yourself why our public service had completely forgotten about 2000 of them.

Many of these regulations have been repealed or amended, some simply so that the authority is now the relevant UK Secretary of State rather than an EU bureaucrat or department. In many cases only certain sections of a regulation will be disapplied. The spreadsheet explains that some regulations were only retained to ensure smooth functioning after Brexit and have since been replaced by a UK regulation.

Many of these EU regulations on the REUL list didn’t even apply to the whole of the United Kingdom in the first place, so it is hard for the BBC to claim they are vital for preserving the environment if they were only ever applicable to England and Wales, or England and Scotland, or simply England, or only to Great Britain rather than being UK wide regulations.

Sorting through the environment regulations in the spreadsheet, I found:

  • EU No 363/2012; legislation description: Sets out procedural rules for the recognition and withdrawal of recognition of monitoring organisations as provided for in Regulation (EU) No 995/2010 of the European Parliament and of the Council laying down the obligations of operators who place timber and timber products on the market.’ Surely UK regulators can simplify this, if we even need it.
  • (EU) 377/2014; legislation description: ‘Old regulation of the Copernicus Space Programme that has now been replaced as part of a new Space Regulation for the new MFF period (2021-2027).’ Even the EU have replaced this one.
  • No 268/2010; that sets conditions for access by EC institutions and bodies to data sets and data services covered by the INSPIRE themes. Now completely redundant as the UK is outside the EU. If the UK wants to give the EU access to UK data, fine, but we don’t need a law requiring us to do so.

Sort using DEFRA and you will find a law on the UK statue books entitled: The Potatoes Originating in the Netherlands Regulations 1997. There is no description, I am guessing that this is one of the 2000 that were forgotten in a bottom draw somewhere in Westminster.

Instead of listing the regulations that Countryfile believed would turn the UK into an industrial wasteland if repealed, the programme interviewed the CEO of the Marine Conservation Society who rather ironically claimed the Government is good at making media announcements but has failed to act on its promises.

A strange thing to say given that getting rid of unnecessary EU regulations was one of the Government’s manifesto promises. The REUL bill is one manifesto promise the government is trying to keep. It is vested interests and EU Rejoiners that are trying to stop it and the BBC and the House of Lords appear to be their ‘useful idiots’.

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