From November, Parliamentary debates on the EU (Withdrawal) Bill – formerly known as the Great Repeal Bill – are taking place in Parliament. The Bill is the statutory implement which will ensure that the body of EU law that currently exists will be transferred into UK law when the UK leaves the EU.
The Bill sets out the process by which European powers, including the Environmental Impact Assessment Directive and Strategic Environmental Assessment Directive, will be transferred.
However, at the time of the Bill’s publication, this complex process was beset by difficulties – not least because there are perceived weaknesses in the Bill which may prevent its stated ambition of ensuring a ‘smooth transition’ and to ‘avoid a black hole in our statute book’ on the day of the UK’s exit from the EU, which could be as soon as 29 March 2019
The position CIfA and CBA want addressed as priorities
CIfA and CBA’s current priorities on Brexit reflect a wide range of potential risks and opportunities presented by the structural, legal, and constitutional implications of leaving the EU.
These organisations are committed to ensuring that the implications for the historic environment of a UK exit from the EU (Brexit) are fully understood and addressed, seeking, in particular, to;
- retain at least equivalent provision for environmental protection in domestic legislation and policy
- compensate for the loss of EU funding to the historic environment with domestic funding
- ensure free movement of skilled and accredited archaeologists between EU and UK
- promote archaeology as a means for sharing understanding that cultures are different and all Europeans are migrants
The EU (Withdrawal) Bill is one of the important means by which these aims will be achieved in the medium term. In addition, CIfA and CBA are engaged with issues relating to the replacement of the Common Agricultural Policy, securing appropriate provisions to mitigate Brexit-driven impacts on the demand for archaeological skills, and mitigating impacts on higher education institutions.
They are currently working with colleagues in the historic and natural environment sectors to combine how to best approach lobbying on these issues. So far they have responded to a number of consultations, and are engaged with actions being taken forward in a variety of fora and working groups including Wildlife and Countryside Link, The Archaeology Forum, Historic England’s Brexit evidence gathering group, Heritage Alliance’s Rural Heritage Advocacy and Spatial Planning Advocacy Groups, Heritage 2020 working groups, and Built Environment Forum Scotland’s Brexit Task Force.
What you can do
CIfA and CBA members are encouraged to contact their MPs to ask them about these issues and exert pressure on parliament to recognise the potential impact that any weakening of environmental protections could have on archaeology and the wider environment.
RESCUE (supported by BAJR) has also produced an ‘open letter’ to parliamentarians which is collecting signatures and aims to highlight the issue of and scale of support for environmental protections and their importance to archaeology. You can sign the open letter here.
(Please note, signing the open letter is no substitute for an individual letter to you own MP, so you are encouraged to do both.)
To read the Full statement by CIfA and CBA
follow this link: