Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs: Brexit

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs written question – answered on 9th September 2019.

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Photo of Angela Eagle Angela Eagle Labour, Wallasey

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what meetings her Department has had with Wirral Council to discuss preparations for the UK leaving the EU without a withdrawal agreement.

Photo of Thangam Debbonaire Thangam Debbonaire Opposition Whip (Commons)

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what meetings her Department has had with Bristol City Council to discuss preparations for the UK leaving the EU without a withdrawal agreement.

Photo of Alex Sobel Alex Sobel Labour/Co-operative, Leeds North West

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what meetings her Department has had with Leeds City Council to discuss preparations for the UK leaving the EU without a withdrawal agreement.

Photo of Helen Goodman Helen Goodman Shadow Minister (Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs)

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what meetings her Department has had with Durham County Council on preparations for the UK leaving the EU without a withdrawal agreement.

Photo of George Eustice George Eustice The Minister of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

We have communicated on a range of topics with local authorities, including in a conference call on 13 August along with other Government departments. Each local Authority has established a Brexit lead officer to liaise with Government.

Defra has identified areas where our exit preparations impact local authorities. For instance Environmental Health Officers are responsible for issuing Export Health Certificates on fish and we have discussed capacity and the requirements with them.

We regularly contribute to a cross-government working group which coordinates engagement with local authorities.

Information on leaving the EU without a withdrawal agreement relevant to a particular local authority can then be accessed by the local authority via shared channels, such as:

  • MHCLG’s Local government Brexit preparedness page on GOV.UK;
  • MHCLG’s weekly e-bulletin to local authorities setting out all relevant updates for the week;
  • Presenting information at MHCLG’s monthly delivery board to local authority representatives;
  • The Food Standards Agency’s Smarter Comms platform accessed directly by regulatory officers in local authorities;
  • Cascading information via MHCLG’s network of nine regional local authority Chief Executives;
  • Using MHCLG’s newly established network of Brexit lead officers in each local authority;
  • Direct email messages to regulatory leads in relevant local authorities;
  • Engaging with and passing information through regulatory bodies such as the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health, the Chartered Trading Standards Institute or the Association of Port Health Authorities.

Information on a range of Defra’s exit projects if we leave the EU without a withdrawal agreement has been made available to local authorities through these channels. This includes information on:

  • Exporting fish and shellfish (Export Health Certificates);
  • Importing fish and fisheries products (Catch Certificates);
  • Import control systems for animals, products of animal origin and high risk food and feed;
  • Food labelling changes;
  • The protection of habitats and species;
  • Waste;
  • Guidance for businesses exporting goods to the EU.

Local authorities have been invited to attend various meetings, including workshops, training events and roadshows on topics including:

  • Changes to environmental regulations;
  • Changes to food and farming;
  • Changes to exports of animals and animal products;
  • Changes to imports of animals and animal products;
  • MHCLG’s regional roadshows on how local authorities will be affected by exiting the EU without a withdrawal agreement in Wakefield, Birmingham, London and Cambridge;
  • Training on catch certificates in Wales, Inverness, Bristol and Newcastle;
  • Changes to trading standards regulatory functions in Exeter;
  • A series of teleconferences on changes to export health certificates;
  • A webinar on changes affecting border or coastal local authorities;
  • A workshop on regulatory services hosted by MHCLG with input from other departments including Defra.

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