The EU referendum takes place on Thursday 23 June across Britain. Yesterday the UK Prime Minister, David Cameron, pushed the campaign to remain in the UK by discussing the environment at a nature reserve yesterday. Friends of the Earth say leaving the EU could result in an environment risk across the UK.
By opting out of EU membership, EU rules which exist to protect some of our most beloved and iconic nature sites – sites that provide habitats to a variety of birds, animals and flora – will be at risk; along with rules which have led to us benefitting from cleaner beaches, water and air across the UK. But despite the threat to our wildlife and nature, and urgent issues like climate change and air pollution requiring international co-operation, discussion on the environment has so far been worryingly absent from the EU referendum debate.
Craig Bennett, CEO Friends of the Earth, speaking ahead of Cameron’s welcome EU intervention on the environment, said: “The evidence is clear: leaving the EU risks undoing the progress we’ve made protecting our nature and environment. Just this week, DEFRA Minister George Eustice called for the EU laws which provide protection for precious sites such as Snowdonia, Dartmoor and Flamborough Head to be scrapped.
“As a minimum, exit from the EU will result in laws that protect our beaches and nature ceasing to apply. At the more extreme end, we could see a severe weakening of environmental standards across the board. Indeed, this is what lots of leading Brexiteers are promising with glee. When so many of the urgent challenges we face, from climate change to air pollution to destruction of the natural world, require international co-operation, kicking away our seat at the table is incredibly short sighted.
“For an environmentalist such as me – who spent his childhood wading through muck on the Essex shorelines and has witnessed first-hand the tangible, EU led transformation – there really is no argument to be had. We are stronger, better, cleaner and greener in.”