A new report published by independent think tank The UK in a Changing Europe entitled; The UK referendum and the environment - flags major concerns that a Brexit will have a detrimental impact on the UK's environment.
The analysis was funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) and the contributors are acknowledged academic experts in their respective fields.
Professor Anand Menon, Director of The UK in a Changing Europe makes it clear that the report is strictly impartial; "In contributing to this review, their [the experts] mission is to explain, not to campaign for either side. By making the findings of existing academic research available, their intention is to help people to make up their own minds."
EU membership has been a major factor behind the “marked improvement in environmental quality in the UK” since the 1980s states the report.; EU obligations on clean water and wildlife protection, have been beneficial to the UK’s environment, along with EU policies that have helped infrastructure investments, for instance in renewable energy and leaving the union would be risky and could damage key green protections.
The report prompted MPs to raise the issue of the environment within the European referendum debate, which has hitherto been somewhat lacking. Rory Stewart, a minister at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), said in a statement released over the weekend, said; “There are clear benefits of EU membership for our natural environment, both at home and abroad. The UK has led the way in driving up environmental standards across Europe, from tackling harmful chemicals that damage the ozone layer, to cracking down on the black-market ivory trade.”
He goes on to say; "We can protect and enhance the environment far more effectively if EU countries continue to work together as part of a reformed European Union, preserving our precious wildlife and natural resources for generations to come. For example, we have led on reform of the common fisheries policy, ending the wasteful practice of throwing fish back, dead, and securing a legal commitment to fish sustainably.”
Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Liz Truss, has also spoken out for the 'Remain' campaign when she warned those at a recent NFU conference that a Brexit would be "a leap in the dark".