Environmental Common Frameworks

Closes 31 May 2022

Opened 20 Apr 2022

Overview

Background

During the UK’s membership of the European Union, the UK Government and devolved administrations were required to comply with EU law. This ensured that in many policy areas, including some that are devolved, a broadly consistent approach was developed across all four nations of the United Kingdom.

Following its exit from the European Union on 31 January 2020, the UK entered a transition period which ended on 31 December 2020. Throughout the transition period, all parts of the UK had to comply with EU law. As this has now ended, there is a possibility of policy divergence between the four nations of the UK in these areas.

The UK and devolved governments have agreed that “common frameworks” – written agreements between governments within the UK – are needed to manage divergence in certain policy areas.

Provisional versions of some of these common frameworks are now available. They are “provisional” because the UK and devolved governments are now seeking views on them from legislatures (Scottish Parliament, UK Parliament, Northern Ireland Assembly, Senedd). Alongside counterpart committees in other parts of the UK, the NZET Committee has a role in scrutinising those common frameworks covering areas of policy falling within its remit.

What does the Committee want to know?

The Committee is seeking views on the following provisional frameworks:

Framework

Description

Radioactive Substances

 

The Framework addresses Euratom Directives that have been transposed into UK law relating to the basic safety standards for protection against the dangers arising from exposure to ionising radiation.

Air Quality

 

The Framework covers policies and regulations that aim to reduce harmful emissions and concentrations of air pollutants that can damage human health and the environment, including in relation to national emission ceilings and ambient air quality.

Best Available Techniques/ Industrial Emissions (BAT)

 

The Framework covers the regulation, control and prevention of pollution from industry. BAT covers the economically and technically viable techniques which are the best for preventing or minimising emissions and impacts on the environment.

Ozone Depleting Substances and F-gases

The Framework covers policies and regulations for Ozone-Depleting Substances (ODS) and Fluorinated Greenhouse Gases (F-gases).

Chemicals and Pesticides

This framework sets out how the UK Government and devolved governments propose to work together on regulating chemicals and pesticides to ensure the safe management of chemicals to prevent and/or minimise harms to human health and the environment.

What are the key questions?

The Committee seeks your views on the following in relation to each of the above frameworks:

  1. Are the frameworks clearly drafted, including in relation to their purpose and scope?
  2. Do the frameworks only cover areas previously governed at an EU level, or do they also include matters not previously governed at an EU level?
  3. Do the frameworks set any measures for assessing whether divergence will be acceptable? By, for example, committing governments to maintaining certain standards.
  4. The processes set out in frameworks will be used for the governments to decide when to align and when to diverge.
    • Are these processes clear?
    • Are the right people involved in decision making?
    • Is there a role for stakeholders?
  5. Do the frameworks propose any significant changes to policy?
  6. How will the framework change decision-making processes in the policy area in comparison to pre EU exit?
  7. Are the decisions making processes set out in the frameworks transparent? By, for example, being subject to reporting requirements.
  8. Do the frameworks provide opportunity for ongoing stakeholder engagement, including in any review and amendment process? 
  9. Do you have any views on how parliament should monitor the functioning of common frameworks?

How to submit your views

We want to hear as many informed views as possible on the provisional common frameworks. 

Please submit your views using the online submission form, linked to below.

We welcome written views in English, Gaelic, Scots or any other language. 

The call for views closes on 31 May 2022.

Interests

  • Environment