Greener UK coalition launches manifesto urging UK government to use Brexit to restore and enhance the environment

Wednesday 22 February 2017
Greener UK coalition launches manifesto urging UK government to use Brexit to restore and enhance the environment

The Greener UK coalition[1] [2] of 13 major environmental organisations, including WWF, the National Trust, RSPB and The Wildlife Trusts, has today launched its manifesto[3] calling on the UK government to restore and enhance the environment as part of its plans for leaving the European Union.
 
They say, “We are depleting our soils and water supplies, generating mountains of food and plastic waste, changing our climate and making the air in our cities dangerous to breathe. Our wild places are dwindling, and we face the sadness of once familiar animals and plants fading away from our gardens and countryside.”
 
The Greener UK manifesto launch follows a House of Lords report last week, which identified the risk of a vacuum in the the oversight and enforcement of environment legislation, and the challenge of effectively maintaining the extensive existing environmental protections through the Repeal Bill.[4]
 
As well as sharing these concerns, the coalition wants to emphasise that Brexit offers the chance to make a greener UK a reality, by:

• Securing the benefits of existing environmental laws and principles through the Repeal Bill, as the UK leaves the EU.

• Ensuring the UK continues to co-operate with the EU on energy and climate change, and affirming ongoing investment in, and deployment of, clean energy infrastructure.

• Introducing new policies and investment that create thriving farming and fishing industries, working with the grain of nature to return our land, seas, lakes and rivers to good health.

• Passing an ambitious new Environment Act for England, building on the upcoming 25 year plan with measurable milestones for environmental restoration and high standards for pollution and resource efficiency (New, separate Acts may also be required in the devolved nations.)

199 MPs from across the UK’s political parties have so far signed up to the Greener UK coalition’s Pledge for the Environment.[5]
 
Miranda Krestovnikoff, TV presenter and wildlife expert on BBC 1’s The One Show, said:
“With so many of our environmental laws coming from the EU, Brexit has potentially huge impacts for nature across the UK. The government must urgently set out its plans to make sure our wonderful, wild spaces are not put at risk, and that opportunities are taken to improve protections for our natural world.”

Stephanie Hilborne, chief executive of The Wildlife Trusts, said:
“We’ve been heartened by the government’s commitment to transfer EU environmental law into domestic law, though there remain significant unanswered questions about how the UK will replace the enforcement functions currently carried out by EU bodies. But if we are to allow for nature's recovery, we must set our sights higher. Now is the time to raise ambition, establishing bold nature goals, better management of land and seas, and innovative environmental policy that can underpin the UK’s new place in the world. Being a truly global Britain means building a thriving economy in harmony with solutions to the critical environmental challenges that will define the twenty-first century.”
 
Tony Juniper, leading environmental campaigner and writer, said:
"If we are to seize Brexit as an opportunity to improve conditions for people in this UK then signalling a commitment to create a better environment is one critical touchstone. Looking after wildlife and environment is a vital prerequisite in promoting our health, wealth and security. A degraded environment is bad for our economy and bad for people and as we embark on the process of leaving the EU we need urgently to put in place the kind of framework and ambition that is fit for purpose.”
 
ENDS

Contact
Alexander Stafford, WWF
astafford@wwf.org.uk 01483 412332

Notes:

[1] Greener UK is a coalition of 13 major environmental organisations, with a combined membership of 7.9 million: Campaign for Better Transport, ClientEarth, Campaign to Protect Rural England, E3G, Friends of the Earth, Green Alliance, Greenpeace, National Trust, RSPB, Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust, The Wildlife Trusts, Woodland Trust and WWF.
 
[2] The Greener UK website will go live at 00.01am on Wednesday 22nd February: www.greeneruk.org

[3] Full text of the Greener UK Manifesto: 
 
A manifesto for a greener UK
 
Greener UK is a coalition of 13 major environmental organisations, with a combined public membership of 7.9 million. The coalition was launched in December 2016, united in the belief that leaving the EU is a pivotal moment to restore and enhance the UK’s environment.
 
We believe that, to make the vision of a greener UK a reality, the following action is necessary:
 
Secure the benefits of existing environmental laws as the UK leaves the European Union, and pass an ambitious new Environment Act

1. Fully transpose and maintain existing EU environmental laws and principles through the Repeal Bill, and ensure we have the necessary governance arrangements in place for robust implementation and enforcement in future.

2. Lead the world by setting measurable milestones for environmental restoration and high standards for pollution and resource efficiency, as part of a strong 25 year plan, reinforced in law in an ambitious new Environment Act.

Secure the UK’s global climate leadership

3. Ensure the UK achieves its global and domestic climate ambitions by continuing to co-operate on energy and climate change with the EU, for example by avoiding disruption to the current EU 2030 climate and energy framework.

4. Affirm ongoing investment in, and deployment of, clean energy infrastructure and efficient vehicles, buildings and appliances; maintain high standards and financial support for greenhouse gas reduction, energy efficiency and air quality.

Introduce new policies and investment that create thriving farming and fishing industries

5. Create sustainable farming and land use policies that deliver real value, by investing taxpayers’ money in public benefits, including abundant nature, clean water, climate change mitigation and beautiful landscapes.

6. Lead the world with high environmental and animal welfare standards in agriculture, to establish a global reputation for quality food that people can trust.

7. Introduce new domestic laws that make the UK a world leader in innovative and sustainable fisheries management, providing the basis for precautionary and ecosystem-based approaches.

8. Continue to support sustainable fishing levels, introducing a domestic legal requirement to fish at a level that allows fish stocks to recover and to document fully all fish caught.

[4] The House of Lords report, Brexit: environment and climate change, was published on 14 February 2017 and is available here: http://www.parliament.uk/business/committees/committees-a-z/lords-select/eu-energy-environment-subcommittee/news-parliament-2015/brexit-env-cc-rpt/
 
[5] See the Pledge for the Environment: http://www.greeneruk.org/pledge.php