Tag Archives: Brexit

The government is on the brink of making a mistake over environmental principles

This post is by Georgina Holmes-Skelton, head of government affairs at the National Trust.

The environmental principles set out in EU treaties and law were the bedrock of the UK’s legal framework for protecting the environment while it was a member of the EU. Now we need to decide what our own version of these crucial legal foundations will look like in UK domestic law. This presents a challenge to ensure that the protections we have are not undermined or diminished, but also a rare and crucial opportunity.

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There’s no doubt about government green intentions, but what about its ability to follow through?

This post is by Tom Burke, chairman and founding director of E3G and former director of Green Alliance (1982-91).

Fifty years ago, extending the rule of law over the then wild frontier of the British environment was the main challenge facing environmental campaigners. Post-Brexit, the challenge we now face is protecting the rule of EU environmental law from populist politicians.

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Brexit: the next phase

We finally have a Trade and Co-operation Agreement (TCA) between the UK and EU. This is good news. No deal was always the worst possible option.

The agreement is good on climate, pays lip service to the concept of sustainable development and affirms the parties’ determination “to maintain and improve” environmental and other standards (p182). But Greener UK’s preliminary analysis concludes that it gives little certainty that standards will not be lowered in the future.

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What will the Brexit endgame mean for the environment?

The pandemic seems to have warped our sense of time. It was early spring and now, suddenly, it’s autumn. But Brexit has provided a strange bit of consistency throughout the period. After a month’s pause, the EU and UK have continued to negotiate their future relationship which is hardly surprising given the looming deadline. While the UK government could have requested an extension, it chose not to do so and the transition period will end on 31 December.

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The government is paving the way to a megafarm future

In 2018 I carried out a series of interviews with family farms in the North York Moors. I was researching what impact the twin changes of leaving the EU and transitioning to a ‘public money for public goods’ subsidy system could have on their lives. Those I visited welcomed me with open arms and, although many had struggled in recent times, they were keen to make the new system work. And we need this system to work. A new RSPB report reveals a “lost decade” for British wildlife. Restorative land use takes time, so we really don’t have many more opportunities to get it right.

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