THE Tories’ Internal Market Bill risks having a “chilling effect” on the environmental goals of the devolved nations, a leading nature charity has warned.

Martin Harper, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds' global conservation director, said that Westminster’s Brexit bill “could thwart any of the four administrations from meeting environmental ambitions they are entitled to set in their country”.

Environmental standards have been devolved to the Welsh, Irish and Scottish governments for many years, and Boris Johnson's Tories stand accused of a "power grab" to try and reclaim control over areas like this.

As it stands, the Internal Market Bill contains clauses relating to mutual recognition and non-discrimination.

Mutual recognition means that goods that meet the standards of one of the UK’s governments can be traded across all four nations, even if those goods do not meet another nation’s higher standards.

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This has been branded a “race to the bottom” by opposition MPs, with the SNP tabling an amendment to have the situation reversed.

The non-discrimination clause would ban rules or regulations from favouring “home” goods and services.

This means a Scottish Government could not ban an English company with lower operating standards from doing business in Scotland or risk being found to “discriminate against service providers because they are connected to a different part of the UK” in court.

Talking about these two clauses, Harper said: “From an environmental perspective, this creates a problem.”

Giving an example, he goes on: “The RSPB and others have long campaigned to ban the use of peat in horticulture.

“If one part of the UK, let’s say Scotland, wanted to introduce such a ban, it could regulate Scottish suppliers but it could not prevent the sale of peat compost in Scotland from other suppliers in the rest of the UK.”

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He added that the RSPB “remain concerned that the Internal Market Bill will quash any political enthusiasm for higher environmental standards”.

The global conservation director added: “There is still so much work to do to replace or hopefully bolster all the environmental powers and institutions that were lost as a result of Brexit.

“We need politicians to keep an eye on the detail and ensure that nothing is done to undermine action necessary to tackle the climate and ecological emergency.”

The UK Cabinet Office has been contacted for comment.