When the Lords inflicted the Government’s first defeat on Brexit this week, we were watching an early round in what is the biggest and highest stakes political game in town.
Going for green
As our foray into this world, CPRE has joined forces with 12 other major environmental organisations to form Greener UK. Between us, we have a combined public membership of 7.9 million and the belief that leaving the EU is a pivotal moment to restore and enhance the UK’s environment.
Few would disagree that we want a world-class environment: clean air, clear water, a stable climate, healthy seas, beautiful landscapes and thriving wildlife in the places we love. During the UK's negotiations to leave the EU, important decisions will need to be made to ensure the UK continues to strive for this.
Greener UK is looking at four key areas for our environment: food and farming; fisheries and marine; climate and energy; and environment and wildlife laws. Together we have produced a manifesto, setting out the eight actions necessary to make the vision of a greener UK a reality. There are three core areas in the manifesto:
• secure the benefits of existing environmental laws as the UK leaves the European Union, and pass an ambitious new Environment Act
• secure the UK’s global climate leadership
• introduce new policies and investment that create thriving farming and fishing industries
Food and farming affairs resonate strongest with CPRE, and the future of such are inextricably linked to nature, land use and landscape. Leaving the EU poses significant risks, but it also provides an unprecedented opportunity to revitalise our countryside in a way that better meets the needs of people and the environment, for generations to come. This is the chance to create new and ambitious policies that are fair to farmers and taxpayers, and provide real value for money. We hope some of the ideas in CPRE’s well received 2016 report New Model Farming: resilience through diversity will form part of the Government’s vision and establish a sound future for farming in the post Brexit era.
We launched Greener UK and the manifesto at a parliamentary reception last week. The event was attended by over 125 people, including MPs, peers and civil servants. George Eustice MP, agriculture, fisheries and food minister, and Rt Hon Hilary Benn MP, chair of the Commons Select Committee on Exiting the EU, both spoke at the event. Eustice set out what he believed ‘taking back control’, meant in relation to the environment, and Benn highlighted the risks but also the opportunities to improve our environmental protections.
So what happens next? Brexit is complex, in some ways regimented by EU Articles and Parliamentary Bills but in other ways very much unchartered territory. Greener UK has set out its manifesto and will now begin the work of briefing and campaigning for a Brexit that benefits and enhances the environment for all.
Find out more