Over a month on, the dust has begun to settle as the UK comes to terms with the verdict to leave the European Union. Yes, there is still some uncertainty looming but the new government has started to come clean about their plans for the future of Britain.
Many of the environment laws and regulations that are currently in place come from the European Union so there’s risk that a lot of the progress made so far will be at risk or even undone once we’ve officially left. Andrea Leadsom, the new Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs along with ministers and relevant organisations will have the hard task to ensure the needs of the British farmers are met as well as protecting the environment after Britain exits the EU.
FCI take a look at the six main priorities as outlined by Greenpeace UK…
It seems as though Theresa May has already abolished the Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC) which has caused a bit of stir between MPs, campaigners and scientists about May’s commitment to global climate change. The DECC will now be merged into a business department but with heatwaves, floods, food imports, environment like farmland and water shortages effecting Britain, the government need to come up with a plan to tackle key climate change issues.
The Common Fisheries Policy sets out quotas detailing the amounts of each type of fish you can catch in certain member states, however, this policy was one that belonged to the EU so will the new government set out fair fishing rights for UK fishers?
Birds, habitat and water
Previously, regulations relating to birds, habitat and water came from the EU so these rules will no longer apply after the formal exit. Greenpeace suggest as an immediate step, the government should transcribe into UK law the EU nature directives that we’re about to lose: the Birds Directive, the Habitats Directive and the Bathing Waters Directive.
Air pollution is a growing problem within the UK so regulations in place need to be strong and well enforced – unfortunately it seems to be lacking at the moment so will the new government commit to a new Clean Air Act to strengthen action on air pollution?
However, Sadiq Khan, the new London Mayor has set out proposals to charge diesel car owners as well as vehicles registered before 2005 £10 a day from late next year to help protect air quality.
Agriculture and countryside
There’s fears that farmers may lose agriculture subsidies following the Brexit, this is a government subsidy which gives British farmers a helping hand in protecting the countryside to keep the sector thriving. If the UK government doesn’t protect and increase funding then farmers could face losing millions of pounds in subsidy.
Before the referendum, George Eustice (ex DEFRA minister) highlighted that the government supported a ban on microbeads. As suggested in the name, microbeads are tiny pieces of plastics found within cosmetic and toiletry products but can have a harmful effect on the marine environment as 100,000 microbeads are potentially washed down the sink with a single application, which is then being eaten by marine life and subsequently ending up in the food chain (Greenpeace.org.uk, Jan 2016). If the new government push forward the ban on microbeads and introduce plastics that can be recycled then this is a step closer to protecting our oceans.
There’s no doubt that there is a lot of work to be done when it comes to environmental factors but Brexit could offer the UK a lifeline to reshape environmental policies to help make Britain a cleaner, more sustainable place to live.
Read the full Greenpeace article here.