South West environment faces ‘cocktail of risks’ from Brexit, warns Green MEP

A new report by the Green Party MP, Caroline Lucas, has revealed a ‘cocktail of risks’ to the UK’s environment from Brexit. The report highlights how the EU has been a driver of environmental action, and that Britain is now entering a period of ‘profound uncertainty’ which could lead to the downgrading of many key protections. 

The report says that Brexit could mean key environmental rules become ‘unenforceable’ and threatens to end funding for agri-environmental schemes through the loss of Common Agriculture Policy and LIFE+ funding. A new trade deal with the US could also mean the UK being forced to accept GM crops and lower food and animal welfare standards such as chlorinated chickens and hormone beef. Molly Scott Cato said:

“With the environment being a mere afterthought for this government, Brexit threatens to cut us off from the crucial environmental safeguards that the EU has provided. This new report from Caroline Lucas shows the cocktail of threats we face in the South West post-Brexit and the huge risks of downgrading environmental protections as part of the post-referendum process. Key laws could become unenforceable, spending on crucial schemes could be cut and new trade deals could undermine existing regulations.”

As well at detailing the impacts of Brexit on the environment the report calls for a ‘Green Guarantee’ to ensure that current levels of environmental protection and funding are maintained and strengthened. It also called for a new ‘Environmental Protection Act’ to be put in place ahead of Britain’s exit from the EU and for Britain to retain membership of key European agencies. Molly Scott Cato said:

“Nobody voted to trash our precious South West environments, landscapes or farming industry, however they voted in the EU referendum. We need the environment firmly back under the radar and for the government to deliver on their commitment of ensuring that we become “the first generation to leave the environment in a better state than we found it”. We need to immediately begin work on introducing an Environmental Protection Act to ensure that crucial environmental protections and enforcements are made legally binding.”

Next week Molly Scott Cato will be launching two new reports on ideas and policy options for farming post-Brexit.