Thursday 23 February 2017

The Greener UK coalition has launched its manifesto urging UK government to use Brexit to restore and enhance the environment

I am delighted that nearly half of our Sussex MPs have signed up to the Greener UK Coalition’s Pledge for the Environment, and I hope that many others will follow suit.  In total some 194 UK MPs now support the pledge.

The Greener UK coalition, consisting  of 13 major environmental organisations, including The Wildlife Trusts, WWF, the National Trust, and the RSPB has launched its manifesto calling on the UK government to restore and enhance the environment as part of its plans for leaving the European Union.

They say, “We are depleting our soils and water supplies, generating mountains of food and plastic waste, changing our climate and making the air in our cities dangerous to breathe. Our wild places are dwindling, and we face the sadness of once familiar animals and plants fading away from our gardens and countryside.”

The Greener UK manifesto launch follows a House of Lords report last week, which identified the risk of a vacuum in the the oversight and enforcement of environment legislation, and the challenge of effectively maintaining the extensive existing environmental protections through the Repeal Bill.[4]

As well as sharing these concerns, the coalition wants to emphasize that Brexit offers the chance to make a greener UK a reality, by:
  • Securing the benefits of existing environmental laws and principles through the Repeal Bill, as the UK leaves the EU.
  • Ensuring the UK continues to co-operate with the EU on energy and climate change, and affirming ongoing investment in, and deployment of, clean energy infrastructure.
  • Introducing new policies and investment that create thriving farming and fishing industries, working with the grain of nature to return our land, seas, lakes and rivers to good health.
  • Passing an ambitious new Environment Act for England, building on the upcoming 25 year plan with measurable milestones for environmental restoration and high standards for pollution and resource efficiency. (New, separate Acts may also be required in the devolved nations.)

Miranda Krestovnikoff, TV presenter and wildlife expert on BBC 1’s The One Show, said:
“With so many of our environmental laws coming from the EU, Brexit has potentially huge impacts for nature across the UK. The government must urgently set out its plans to make sure our wonderful, wild spaces are not put at risk, and that opportunities are taken to improve protections for our natural world.”

Stephanie Hilborne, chief executive of The Wildlife Trusts, said:
“We’ve been heartened by the government’s commitment to transfer EU environmental law into domestic law, though there remain significant unanswered questions about how the UK will replace the enforcement functions currently carried out by EU bodies. But if we are to allow for nature's recovery, we must set our sights higher. Now is the time to raise ambition, establishing bold nature goals, better management of land and seas, and innovative environmental policy that can underpin the UK’s new place in the world. Being a truly global Britain means building a thriving economy in harmony with solutions to the critical environmental challenges that will define the twenty-first century.”

Tony Juniper, leading environmental campaigner and writer, said:
"If we are to seize Brexit as an opportunity to improve conditions for people in this UK then signalling a commitment to create a better environment is one critical touchstone. Looking after wildlife and environment is a vital prerequisite in promoting our health, wealth and security. A degraded environment is bad for our economy and bad for people and as we embark on the process of leaving the EU we need urgently to put in place the kind of framework and ambition that is fit for purpose.”

Ross Murray, President of the Country Land and Business Association, said:
“At this pivotal moment in our nation’s history, we have an opportunity to reinforce our commitment to sustainable farming and land use policies.  In the long term, a resilient and profitable agricultural sector will depend on this. The CLA looks forward to working with all parties, including those in Greener UK, as we navigate through the Brexit process to ensure we develop  world-leading UK food, farming and environmental policies that benefit everyone.”