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Ray Cobbett: Britain can go greener after Brexit

The Natterjack toad is under threat. Picture RSPB

Published in the Portsmouth News on the 30th December 2016

 

FRIENDS of the Earth is one of 13 environmental groups with a combined membership of eight million which has launched A Greener UK campaign to keep Britain among the greenest countries in the world.

Other bodies include the National Trust, Wildlife Trusts, CPRE and RSPB.

A poll showed that 80 per cent of respondents backed the same or stronger environment protection after Brexit as currently provided under EU law.

As more and more green space is allocated for development our land, water, clean air and wildlife is coming under increasing stress.

MPs are being asked to pledge their support and so far 145 have done so.

Specifically, they are being asked to:

  • Establish the UK as a world leader on the environment by matching or exceeding current environmental wildlife and habitat protection.
  • Ensure the UK leads on climate action.
  • Create a richer countryside by supporting landowners and farmers to deliver environmental benefits alongside a thriving farming sector.

The 2016 State of Nature report shows that 15 per cent of species native to the UK are extinct while 50 per cent were in decline, indicating that nature is faring worse in Britain than in most countries.

The main reasons are intensive agriculture, pollution, spreading urbanisation and climate change.

The pressure on south Hampshire from business for more development makes the whole area particularly vulnerable with the added challenge of flooding from rising sea levels and a wetter climate whose effects are made worse by building on flood plains.

Havant Borough Council, for example, plans to build more than 11,000 new homes but hasn’t got sufficient sites for them without threatening hitherto protected land to destructive development.

EU environment directives have, on balance, supported nature conservation and protection in the UK.

The hope must be that after Brexit we will seize the opportunity to build on them to become even greener for the sake of future generations.

 

Ray Cobbett is from Havant Friends of the Earth

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