By Tony Whitbread
The government’s Environmental Audit Committee (EAC), chaired by Mary Creagh MP has just published its report following its inquiry into the future of the natural environment after leaving the EU.
This makes interesting reading, especially as the Wildlife Trusts combined to prepare a good body of evidence to feed into the inquiry. The report can be found on the EAC web site and Steph Hilborne, Chief Executive of the Wildlife Trusts national office has written this brief response.
A quick read through indicates that some of the Wildlife Trusts key points have got through to the final report. The report recognizes that Brexit could put farming and wildlife at great risk. A potential loss of subsidies together with possible tariffs against farm exports could damage the farming industry, making it less viable and less able to expend resources on managing the countryside in an environmentally sensitive way. Alongside this, the potential loss of The Birds and Habitats directives means that government should provide new measures to safeguard Britain’s wildlife and special places.
The EAC proposes that government should pass a new Environmental Protection Act setting out how it will provide an equivalent or better level of protection after leaving the EU. Alongside this new subsidy arrangements should be put in place to provide public payments to farmers for providing public benefits – like the promotion of biodiversity, preventing flooding and storing carbon.
If alternative measures are not put in place, the report warns that there could be potentially far reaching consequences for the UK’s biodiversity.