Thursday, 25 August 2016

Brexit: and the demand for stricter environmental laws

There has been growing concern about the impact of Brexit on the environment:
Futures Forum: Brexit: and the future of the natural environment >>> submissions invited to parliamentary inquiry
Futures Forum: Brexit: and bees
Futures Forum: Brexit: and the environment

The Friends of the Earth have just commissioned a survey on voter attitudes:

Brexit: Four in five people back tough wildlife protection laws after UK leaves the EU

Ukip voters are the most keen for the UK to pass stricter environmental legislation than the EU 

Ian Johnston Environment Correspondent
10 hours ago 13 comments

Survey finds strong support for maintaining or toughening laws designed to protect wildlife and wild areas like the Lake District, above iStock

More than four out of five people want laws protecting wildlife to remain as strong or be made tougher after the UK leaves the European Union, according to a new pollThe EU has world-leading environmental protection standards and there have been fears of a “bonfire” of regulations in post-Brexit Britain amid pressure to cut ‘Brussels bureaucracy’.

However the poll, by YouGov for campaign group Friends of the Earth, suggests this would be an unpopular move – particularly among the most ardent supporters of the Leave campaign.

The survey found 46 per cent of people wanted a higher level of protection for wild areas and wildlife with a further 37 per cent wanting the legislation to remain the same – a total of 83 per cent. Just 4 per cent favoured weaker regulations. And people who voted Ukip in last year’s election were more likely to back tougher laws than any other party’s supporters.

Fifty-five per cent of Ukip voters backed greater protections, compared to 49 per cent of Labour supporters, 43 per cent of Lib Dems and 40 per cent of Conservatives.

Friends of the Earth campaigner Samuel Lowe said: “This survey sends a powerful message to the UK Government that EU rules aimed at protecting our natural environment must be maintained or strengthened.

“The poll completely undermines those who argue that Brexit should lead to a watering down of the UK’s environmental commitments. There is little public support for this – even from those who voted to leave the EU.”

Brexit has become the 'neverendum' story

The survey, of 1,687 people, also found 81 per cent of respondents backed keeping the EU’s ban on neonicotinoid pesticides because of the threat to bees. These have been found to have “sub-lethal” harmful effects on the important pollinators and a recent study concluded that use of the chemicals was linked to “large-scale population extinctions”.

Support for keeping the ban ranged from 79 per cent of Tories to 93 per cent of Lib Dems. Only 5 per cent thought the pesticides should be allowed. “The Government must stand up to pressure from the National Farmers Union and keep the EU ban on bee-harming neonicotinoid pesticides. This is what the science says, and the public demands,” Mr Lowe said.

Asked whether subsidies given to farmers should put more emphasis on environmental protection after Brexit, 25 per cent backed the idea, 32 per cent said they should remain the same and seven per cent backed less emphasis on this. Eleven per cent said farming subsidies should be abolished, while 25 per cent said they did not know what should happen.

Asked about the polls findings and what would happen to environment regulations after Brexit, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said: “We are working hard to make our natural environment cleaner and healthier – woodland cover in England is at its highest level since the 14th century, we have improved water quality in 9,000 miles of rivers since 2010 and in the last five years we have created or restored over 100,000 hectares of wildlife habitat.

"Protecting our precious environment will form an important part of our EU exit negotiations and we will work to deliver the best possible outcome for the British people."

Neonicotinoid pesticides are currently banned under EU legislation but the Government can allow its use under licence. It recently refused a request to use them by the National Farmers Union.

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