Brexit and the Environment: Now We All Need to Speak Up For Nature

Tuesday 28th March 2017

As Article 50 is triggered today, we begin a process which no one can safely predict the outcome of. What is clear is that this process will be long, immensely complicated and involve a huge number of voices clamouring for attention and priority.

Trade links, investment for industry, security, imports of consumer goods and food are just some of the issues that will be loudly articulated, as well as the thorny issue of immigration and freedom of moment which has dominated the headlines since the Brexit result was known last June. And these debates will run loudly here in the West of England as well as nationally.

But what about nature and wildlife in all this? What does Brexit mean for our green spaces, our wildlife and the varied habitats and landscapes across the UK and here in our region? As the bluebells show their spectacular displays in woodlands like Prior’s Wood near Portbury, what are future seasons going to herald? Leaving the EU has real potential to affect the future security of our wild places and the diversity of animals, trees and plants which are found there. At the very least it and will mean a complete revision of the way our natural environment and wildlife is protected.

Many of the laws that protect wildlife in the UK come from the EU, and leaving Europe will mean we lose 6,000 separate pieces of legislation that are specifically designed to protect nature in the UK. These laws help to reduce air pollution, keep our seas and rivers clean, and protect the habitats and landscapes that our birds, bees and other wildlife all rely on. You can see a presentation given by Ali Plummer, The Wildlife Trusts law campaigner here with more detail about these legislative links. So with this change in legislation as a result of Brexit, we have an opportunity. Brexit presents the UK with a real chance to strengthen and improve the existing level of protection for our environment. If we work together, we can leave nature a better place for future generations.

This is the challenge we face nationally, and it starts here, with us, in Avon.

For the past six months, we have been asking MP’s to make a Pledge for the Environment and sign up to a clear set of goals that will preserve and enhance environmental protections. Together with 12 other leading environmental NGO’s working together as Greener UK, The Wildlife Trusts have succeeded in convincing over 200 MP’s to sign up to the Pledge. Altogether, Greener UK represents the voices of almost 8 million people across the UK who we know care about the future for nature.

If you care about nature, please take this moment to ask your MP to sign the Pledge. Several of our local MPs including Thangam Debonnaire, Charlotte Leslie, Kerry McCarthy, Karin Smyth and Ben Howlett have already signed here. You can find out who your MP is and how to contact them here.

Nature still needs lovers, but it also needs those willing to stand up and fight for its future. The danger is that nature’s voice will not be heard as the Brexit negotiations move on. So the challenge is now for all of us to speak up clearly for wildlife and the environment. Together we can make sure nature’s voice does not become silent.