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Planning, Governance, and Politics

Environmental Planning after Brexit – Working with the Legacy of EU Directives

Environmental Planning after Brexit – Working with the Legacy of EU Directives


Richard Cowell, University of Cardiff, with

Geraint Ellis, University of Belfast; Thomas Fisher and Olivier Sykes, Liverpool University; Anthony Jackson, Dundee University; Thomas Muinzner, Stirling University

The goal of this study was to examine how the relationship between UK planning systems and environmental legislation might evolve, post-Brexit. Methodologically, it utilised documentary analysis and interviews and focus groups with planning and built environment professionals.

The study is important for the planning profession, in the public and private sector, as well as NGOs and planning policy-makers. It provided the following:

  • a structured overview of how planning and environmental legislation intersect, embracing air and water quality, wildlife protection and impact assessment techniques
  • detail on how the planning-environment interface may evolve in different ways in the devolved nations of the UK, post-Brexit
  • original evidence on how planning practitioners regard key characteristics of EU legislation

Key findings from the study include the strong evidence of support from across most of the planning profession for the content and format of EU environmental legislation – its firm standards and objectives - and much professional negativity towards any future policy scenarios in which domestic governments watered down environmental standards.

Since Brexit, the UK has created a suite of domestic statutory environmental targets, raising major questions about how planning will help to deliver them – insights from this study remain highly relevant to that endeavour.

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Members of the multi-institutional research team

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Members of the multi-institutional research team