This post is by Tom Lancaster, senior policy officer at the RSPB, and Marcus Gilleard, senior policy programme manager at the National Trust.
For a couple of policy wonks on the Brexit front line, perspective can be hard to come by at times. So we’ve taken a few days to digest Michael Gove’s speech at last week’s Oxford Farming Conference and assess where it leaves us in our quest for a more sustainable farming and land management system.
New Year articles and blogs often predict what is going to happen in the year ahead. But after the political upsets of the past couple years, it seems more appropriate to pose questions than predict outcomes. So here are some of the important questions that need addressing this year, starting, inevitably, with Brexit.
As we entered 2017, the UK was on edge, with the government’s plans for Brexit unclear, and the environmental dimensions of that even more so. While much remains at risk as the year draws to a close, prospects for our environment look brighter than they did 12 months ago.
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
Freedom’s Sentinel, Operation Red Dragon, Liberty Shield, National Sword and Green Quest. They all sound like the names given to military interventions of recent years. And, in fact, they all are, apart from one, which is a Chinese government programme aiming to improve the quality of recycling. And, no, it’s not Green Quest (a short lived American operation investigating terrorist financing sources). Rather, the programme seeking to prevent imports of poor quality recyclates is National Sword, a surprisingly aggressive title for such an environmentally beneficial endeavour.
As Greener UK has already highlighted, the EU (Withdrawal) Bill is crucial in ensuring the protection of the UK’s environment. So we will be on high alert when MPs begin their detailed scrutiny of the bill in a little over a week.
It has some major deficiencies, including the omission of the environmental principles which underpin many of our strongest protections. We are also concerned about what we’ve called the governance gap: if we break off relations with some or all EU institutions, we have to replace their functions in the UK to be able to operate to the highest of environmental standards. Read more
This post is by Richard Benwell, head of government affairs at WWT.
The government has promised legal continuity on ‘Brexit Day’ but, as it stands, the EU (Withdrawal) Bill would fail to achieve equivalence in environmental protection. As a result, the focus of campaigning on the bill has been on achieving continuity.
The government has not lacked advice as to what should go in its long promised 25 year plan for the environment. Most of it has ended up as white noise but, finally, and with surprisingly little fanfare, we have something of significance: the official advice to government of the Natural Capital Committee (NCC).
Should we trust Michael Gove? That’s the question lurking underneath all of the commentary about the environment secretary’s protestations of love for the planet. He gave a barnstormer of a speech at WWF’s Living Planet centre last week, declaring that marine plastics would be tackled, the ivory trade would be halted and eleven million trees would be planted. Read more