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09/12/2016

Brexit a threat to UK nature and wildlife, say experts

UK & Europe

Brexit a threat to UK nature and wildlife, say experts

EU legislation has helped protect some of the UK's rarest species.

[Peter Trimming/Flickr]

The consequences of Brexit could be disastrous for the UK’s nature and wildlife, as most environmental regulation comes from the EU, our partner Journal de l’Environnement reports.

Just hours before the British prime minister arrived in Brussels last Friday (29 January) for the latest round of negotiations on the UK ‘s membership of the European Union, British environmentalists expressed grave concerns over the country’s possible exit from the bloc.

In a letter to the UK Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs , Elizabeth Truss, 13 academics and senior officials outlines their fears for the environmental consequences of a possible split between the EU and the United Kingdom.

In view of the fact that most environmental law is passed at a European level, the signatories of the letter believe that the efficiency of the UK’s national legislation would be undermined if it were to leave the EU.

“Britain’s membership of the European Union has had a hugely positive effect on the quality of Britain’s beaches, our water and rivers, our air and many of our rarest birds, plants and animals and their habitats,” they wrote.

Better protection

“Being part of the Union has enabled us to coordinate action and agree policies that have improved our quality of life, including the air we breathe, the seas we fish in, and have protected the wildlife which crosses national boundaries,” they added. 

“The case is clear. We will better able to protect the quality of Britain’s environment if we stay in Europe.”

This opinion is clearly not shared by many of those campaigning to leave the EU. Margaret Thatcher’s former finance minister and anti-EU campaigner Nigel Lawson is well-known for his climate scepticism. And the charismatic leader of the anti-EU party UKIP, Nigel Farage, has also made climate-sceptic remarks.

> > Read: British government set to argue against itself on Brexit vote