A beautiful english landscape with streams, lush grass and trees. The image has been edited so the landscape looks knitted.

The government is unravelling laws that protect nature, the environment and us

Our rivers and air are filthy. Green spaces are threatened. Nature is in decline. But this June, the government passed a law that could start an unravelling of thousands of the laws that safeguard people and nature.

We’re not just talking about laws on paper. We’re talking about real protections that guard the stuff we value. And if these are weakened, we could be left with more polluted air, dirtier water and fewer protections for wildlife and people. Everyone is worried. Our friends at RSPB and The Wildlife Trusts are also fighting to protect nature, wildlife and our future.

Find out what the Retained EU Law Act means, and how we fought hard to stop thousands of laws disappearing at the end of 2023, and succeeded. And learn why we’re still fighting to save protections which could unravel over the next 3 years without our MPs having a say.

What is the Retained EU Law Act?

In autumn 2022 the UK government announced plans for a bonfire of the laws that protect people and nature. Alongside our supporters we stopped the government’s Retained EU Law Act from lighting that bonfire. But the fight isn’t over yet.

The Act became law in June 2023. And along the way we’ve seen some crucial wins. We helped the government to see some sense, and remove the deletion deadline of 31 December 2023. This means hundreds of laws are safe from simply disappearing this year.

But despite a monumental effort from our supporters, Peers, many MPs and other environmental organisations, the government resisted amendments which would have protected the laws that safeguard our environment and improved parliamentary scrutiny.

This means ministers now have the power to weaken or unravel thousands of the laws that protect people and the environment before 2026. But we still have the power to stop them. We’ll hold the government to promises that the review process won’t result in weaker laws.

We’ll make sure you can defend the laws that clean up our air, hold companies accountable when they pollute, and protect our nature. And we won’t let this law kick off a 3 year long unravelling of the legal protections that we rely on.

Timeline: the fight to save our protections

September 2022: the UK government published a plan to review, delete or weaken thousands of laws that protect us and our environment by the end of 2023. We were pretty horrified.

Winter/spring 2022-23: Over 90,000 of us demanded a government rethink its attack on nature protections by signing our petition.

January 2023: Over 8,000 people emailed their MPs ahead of the first big debates on the bill. Lots of MPs voted for changes to these ridiculous plans.

Spring 2023: We sent briefings to Lords to help them explain why these plans needed changing.

11 May 2023: after huge public pressure, the government removed the arbitrary December deletion deadline from its plans. This would have seen thousands of laws at risk in 2023. Instead, just over 600 protections have been listed for the chop.

22 May 2023: The house of Lords fought back against the remaining threat: Handing ministers power to decide which laws get weakened or unravelled. They asked the government to guarantee that ministers won’t be able to weaken or unravel environmental and food laws in carrying out this plan.

24 May 2023: We backed the Lords, and handed in our petition calling for stronger, not weaker, environmental protections. But hours later, our MPs voted against this change.

June 2023: over 10,000 people emailed their MPs. And we sent unravelling puffins out all over the country to spread the word that government was launching a plan to unravel our laws.

12 June 2023: But when the Lords told MPs to think again in June, the government made the wrong decision again.

21 June 2023: MPs voted against the Lord’s amendments again.

29 June 2023: The Retained EU Law (Revocation and Reform) Act became law

What's next?

We need to keep the pressure on the government to not unravel the protections for our wildlife and our environment.

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

What can I do?

The Retained EU Law will leave many legal protections for wildlife, the environment and our health in limbo, handing ministers sweeping powers to weaken and pull apart these safeguards.

If you believe that people and nature deserve protection, please sign the petition now and ask the government to protect the laws that protect our environment.

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