1.The EU is the source of, and vehicle for, most environmental legislation and protection in the UK. From regulatory standards to governance and enforcement structures, membership of the EU has had a significant impact on environmental legislation in the UK, and, in more recent years, climate change policy.
2.Nevertheless, environmental policy played little part in the referendum campaign. Professor Andy Jordan, Professor of Environmental Sciences at the University of East Anglia, pointed out that it “was not an issue during the referendum and was not discussed very much in David Cameron’s New Settlement”. As a result, according to The Wildlife Trusts:
“There is no evidence that the public intended the referendum vote to result in any diminution of levels of protection for wildlife and wild places. Indeed, over 80% of the public support at least the same level, if not higher levels of protection following exit from the EU.”
Michael Jacobs, Director at the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR), echoed this view: “What we know about public opinion is that the environment is one of the things they think the EU is good for, but it did not outweigh the other things that 52% of the population thought it was not good for.”
3.The aim of this report is to shed light on the likely impact of Brexit on UK environment and climate change policy, and highlight what action will need to be taken to manage the issues that arise.
4.Following the referendum on 23 June 2016, the European Union Committee and its six sub-committees launched a coordinated series of inquiries, addressing the most important cross-cutting issues that will arise in the course of negotiations on Brexit. These inquiries, though short, are an opportunity to explore and inform wider debate on the major opportunities and risks that Brexit presents to the United Kingdom.
5.We are grateful to the witnesses who gave oral evidence and to those who responded to our targeted request for written contributions. We are also grateful to David Baldock, Senior Fellow at the Institute for European Environment Policy, who acted as Specialist Adviser to the inquiry. All views expressed in this report are of course our own.
6.We make this report to the House for debate.