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Articles - Why the EU is good for the environment



Managing Editor Dominic Mitchell. Photo by Eleanor Bentall.
Managing Editor Dominic Mitchell. Photo by Eleanor Bentall.

Dominic Mitchell - Posted on 01 Jun 2016

THIS month voters in the UK get the chance to say whether or not the country should remain in the European Union. The environmental impact of a so-called ‘Brexit’ has received precious little attention in the mainstream media, but for wildlife and habitats in Britain it really is crunch time.

Why? For a start, the EU provides an essential counter-balance to a government whose leader is forever tainted by the words “We’ve got to get rid of all this green crap”. Environmental legislation is seen as a burden to business in the UK, not as a framework for the preservation of natural resources and for improving the quality of the countryside. It is the EU, not the Conservative government, whose directives now protect nature on more than 8,000 square miles of land in the UK – an area 13 times the size of Greater London. Through such initiatives our air is cleaner, too, and so are our beaches and seas.

When a consultation exercise was undertaken as part of a review which threatened such laws, a record 520,000 respondents in the EU took part, including more than 100,000 from Britain, and campaigning resulted in almost 80 per cent of MEPs voting to protect nature – that simply would not have happened in the House of Commons under the present government. There are also environmental policies with strict targets that can be legally enforced as a result of our membership of the EU – a far cry from the days when Britain was known as the ‘Dirty Man of Europe’, recklessly producing more sulphur dioxide – the principal cause of acid rain – than any other country in the Continent.

Birds do not recognise political boundaries, and the environment is a concern common to us all. Legislation from Brussels is needed to protect wildlife and habitats right across Europe and especially in Britain, and continued membership of the EU is the only way to maintain this important protective framework and stop it from being dismantled. Voting for Britain to remain within the EU is the only option for birds and the environment.

Postscript: This editorial outlines in very general terms the importance of EU membership from an environmental perspective. For an unequivocal understanding of what a Brexit will mean for trade and the economy, this lecture by Professor Michael Dougan, an independent academic expert from the University of Liverpool's Law School, makes sobering viewing.

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6 comments so far...

1.Linda Haylock
22 Jun 2016 17:33
But the EU are thinking of relaxing their nature directives. If so many people are for the Directives staying as they currently are, why does the EU's decision keep being delayed? I think it's quite likely that the EU will weaken the Directives so voting to remain in the EU will probably not be good for nature.
2.Terry1958
22 Jun 2016 18:07
I totally disagree with using this outlet to air your personal political views on the eve of the referendum. And, if that was not enough, you support your views with a 24 minute video of another persons personal views.
Well, here is my personal view. I will, with immediate effect, be unsubscribing to anything to do with 'Birdwatch' and advising others to do the same.

p.s.
If we do 'remain' it would be good to see you channel your enthusiasm and love of the EUto focus on the slaughter of migrants (songbirds, birds of prey etc) within their membership in particular Malta.
3.Ed Hutchings
23 Jun 2016 07:35
Personal political view? Where in the article are personal references made? Dominic is stating the facts with regards why the European Union is good for the environment.

At any rate, as Managing Editor of Birdwatch, he is perfectly entitled to publish an Editorial comment.
4.nroot
24 Jun 2016 12:30
Dominic, just like to educate you on the 'Dirty Man of Europe' sobriquet. This was directly as a result of our submissions of point-source pollution levels to the Paris-Oslo (OSPAR) Commission (nothing to do with the EU). As the UK, unlike say the French, submitted correct readings that were obviously higher than for those countries that gave 'edited' submissions (their excuse being pollution on mainland Europe is hard to quantify where boundaries are less defined.
Also have to agree with Terry, the EU Bird Directive has done no favours to those birds that happen to fly over the southern Mediterranean.
5.gyy123
03 Oct 2016 06:57
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6.Ed Hutchings
03 Oct 2016 07:10
Eh?
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