What's the Retained EU Law Act?

The Retained EU Law Act gives government the power to unravel the environmental laws that safeguard people and nature. It became law in June 2023.

Thankfully, your support meant we were able to successfully stop thousands of these laws from disappearing at the end of 2023. But it's not over yet. 

Find out how we helped save environmental protections, and why we're still fighting to save protections that are at risk of unravelling in the next 3 years.

A seal on a beach trapped in a fishing net

We’re talking about real protections that safeguard the things we value, including many precious species like seals and dormice. And if these are weakened, we could be left with more polluted air, dirtier water, declining species, and fewer protections for wildlife and people. 

Kierra Box, Campaigner

Timeline: the fight to save our protections

September 2022: the UK government published the Retained EU Law Bill, a plan to review, delete or weaken thousands of laws that protect us and our environment by the end of 2023. 

May 2023: after huge public pressure, including over 90,000 signatures on our petition and more than 8,000 of you emailing your MPs, the government removed the December 2023 deadline. Instead of thousands of laws at risk in 2023, just over 600 protections were listed for the chop.

June 2023: the bill still threatened to hand ministers the power to decide which laws get weakened or unravelled. Over 10,000 of you emailed your MPs and we sent unravelling puffins out all over the country to spread the word. But despite this and opposition from the House of Lords, MPs voted in support of the bill and the Retained EU Law Act became law.

October 2023: the government published a second list of laws to be deleted by the end of the year. It knew we were watching, and when we analysed it we found only 2 changes were made with the potential to impact our environment, a big reduction from the thousands of laws previously at risk. 

February 2024: the government published another list of laws for deletion. This time, of the 70 environmental laws on the list, none raised a concern. 

What's next?

Ministers still have the power to weaken or unravel thousands of laws before 2026. We're continuing to hold the government to promises that the review process won’t result in weaker laws, and we need to keep the pressure on it to maintain and improve the protections for our wildlife and our environment. We sent an open letter to all government departments, asking them to commit to transparency, engaging people in any changes to laws, and not reducing our protections.

We also need to make sure that where legal protections aren’t working to keep our environment healthy, everyone has the tools to act. This is part of our work to secure a healthy environment for everyone, everywhere.

Everyone deserves green spaces, clean air and safe waters

Demand a healthy environment

What can I do?

We're working to make sure you can defend the laws that clean up our air, hold companies accountable when they pollute, and protect our nature.

We’re building a register of support for a bold new law, which could give us all the right to a healthy environment and improve protections for people and nature. We think clean air, safe environments and unpolluted water should be a legal right. 

If you agree, join our call for a new Environmental Rights Act.

Photo of family of four in a woodland park. Children are having piggy back rides and everyone is smiling.