A year on from the prime minister’s letter invoking Article 50, the Brexit hourglass is now half full, or half empty depending on your political disposition. Optimist or pessimist, Leaver or Remainer, the fact is there is now less time for Theresa May and her enthusiastic Environment Secretary Michael Gove to deliver on their promise of a “green Brexit”. Read more
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At the end of January the EU (Withdrawal) Bill was the subject of a record-breaking debate in the House of Lords. One hundred and ninety peers spoke at the bill’s second reading, including several members of the expert Constitution Committee, which concluded that “the Bill risks fundamentally undermining legal certainty in this country”. There was also widespread concern about the ability of parliament to hold the government to account, the loss of the charter of fundamental rights and the implications for devolution. Read more
This post is by Donal McCarthy, senior policy officer at the RSPB and co-ordinator of the Greener UK ‘Brexit and Devolution’ working group.
From the coverage surrounding the launch of the UK government’s long awaited 25 year environment plan last week, one could easily have been forgiven for thinking it set out a long term strategy for restoring nature across the four UK nations. In fact, most of its proposals will only apply to England and, to a more limited extent, the UK Overseas Territories.
No vision for collaboration between UK nations
Since the late 90s, most areas of environmental policy have been devolved to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. As such, the new plan largely focuses on those aspects of environmental policy reserved to the UK government. Read more
This post is by Andy Jordan, Charlie Burns and Viviane Gravey, co-chairs of the ESRC funded Brexit & Environment network.
The EU has mostly exerted its influence through the medium of law and policy. For many non-experts, 29 March 2017 (when Article 50 was triggered) was the day when the risk that large parts of the UK’s environment could lose their legislative protections suddenly became very real indeed.
It’s so often the case that environmental issues are overlooked in parliament, squeezed in time and overshadowed by other priorities. But last night saw something rather special: three hours of uninterrupted parliamentary debate on the environment in which politicians from all parties were competing to speak and make and seek commitments about future environmental protection. Read more
This post is by Andrea Speranza, Brexit campaigner at CHEM Trust.
Like everyone, I receive a lot of receipts each week. I drop them dismissively into my bag. When I tidy up at the start of the week, I notice how many there are and, until recently, the only risk I saw was financial.
But now I know better and I am starting to worry. If I handle a lot, what about the cashiers who handle them every day? Read more
The fact that the summer of 2017 is turning out to be one of the hottest on record was not apparent in WWF’s Living Planet Centre today as Michael Gove set out his first public speech on the environment since becoming secretary of state. As one of the most energy efficient buildings in Europe, heat pumps are engaged to transport cooler air from underground whilst window features reflect sunlight in summer to prevent excess heat. A perfect atmosphere for delivering a much anticipated speech.
This post is by Griffin Carpenter, senior researcher at the New Economics Foundation.
Michael Gove has purportedly shown us what ‘taking back control’ really means, by drawing a 12-mile line around the UK for exclusive fishing access for British vessels. Now he has his sights set on an Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) of 200 miles (or the median line). On a map, this looks like a win for British influence in the world, reminiscent of times past and conquering new territory. But the nature of influence and the transboundary movements of those pesky fish mean that this drive to etch battle lines has the notion of control completely backwards. Real control requires co-operation and shared management. Unfortunately, the idea of control offered by the most buccaneering Brexiteers does not seem to involve much co-operation at all. Read more
This post is by Richard Benwell, head of government affairs at WWT.
Every stretch of river has its own character. Here are a few of the personalities I’ve got to know over the years:
- Beverley Brook – small, beautiful, prone to outbursts; a Richmond river with a film star name
- Byron’s Pool – tranquil, romantic, deep and surrounded by wildlife (but no bears)
- Thames at Lechlade – the first point where Old Father Thames gives a hint of his power
- The Severn Estuary – the last point of the UK’s longest river; a famous bore
Each has its own charms and needs. It’s this diversity that can help to inspire communities to love and protect their rivers and it’s the reason why every portion of every river needs to be given its own care. The attention that will calm the bursting banks of Beverley Brook might be a drop in the ocean elsewhere.
This post is by Gemma Wells, RSPB’s Brexit project officer.
It’s been a tumultuous time in UK politics since we voted to leave the EU a year ago. The overriding mood of the year has been uncertainty which has permeated all sectors, not least the environmental sector.
Since the majority of the laws, principles and resources that protect our environment come via the EU, the Brexit process poses a risk to our current levels of protection. Read more