UK must retain EU’s green laws in Brexit negotiations, urge MPs

The Environmental Audit Committee (EAC) has called on the UK government to maintain the existing level of environmental protection currently guaranteed by EU law. It has written an open letter […]

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By Jonny Bairstow

The Environmental Audit Committee (EAC) has called on the UK government to maintain the existing level of environmental protection currently guaranteed by EU law.

It has written an open letter to David Davis, the new Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union and Therese Coffey MP, Defra Minister, asking for reassurance concerning the future of environmental laws and policies following Brexit.

The MPs are worried the UK Government will “deprioritise” the improvement of air quality, water pollution, waste management, biodiversity when the nation leaves the EU.

They also want the government to commit to transnational co-operation on issues such as climate change.

Committee Chair Mary Creagh MP states: “Environmental protection is central to inter-generational fairness, to our health and standard of living. The most recent ONS [Office for National Statistics] figures show that the low carbon and renewable energy economy alone was worth £46.2 billion in 2014, supporting nearly quarter of a million jobs.

“Businesses and investors will be looking for stability at this time. It is crucial that the government demonstrates its commitment to environmental protection at an early stage in the exit negotiations.”

The Committee adds it would like to hear oral evidence from Mr Davis and Ms Coffey in September on how the government intends to approach these issues during the exit negotiations.

A spokesperson from Defra said: “The government is committed to protecting our environment so people have clean air to breathe, clean water to drink and an energising and beautiful landscape to enjoy.

“We now have an historic opportunity to consider the long term vision for the environment outside of the EU. As a part of this, we will be developing our 25-year plan for the environment, a manifesto commitment which we will work with a range of partners to determine and deliver.”