Brexit: Why I’m Voting To Stay

Did you know there’s a referendum coming up? Of course you do, there isn’t a day when we aren’t fed a supposed “scare story” in the media. Whether its house prices, employment levels or uncontrolled immigration politicians are catfighting over the others figures and ignoring what is the real scare story and the reason I am voting in. What stands to happen to our environment if we leave.

I’m not here to talk scary figures to push you into voting to remain but the campaigners seem to be missing a huge issue in the closing stages of the campaign. Quite honestly the migration crisis pales into obscurity if you can’t maintain a healthy, sustainable environment for people to inhabit.

Once upon a time we were the dirty man of Europe (arguably we still are but more on that later). Then our arrival in the European Union started to  put an end to our miserable ways as they brought in the majority of our environmental laws. They put an end to us pumping sewage into our seas, they brought about the habitat and birds directives and they prevent air pollution from becoming too bad.

Air pollution has been in the news a lot recently, with the revelations that air quality is in an appalling state in many areas of the country. EU law binds the UK Government into controlling the amount of pollutants which are linked to health problems, and when it emerged that the UK was persistently failing this they were taken to court over it. After four years of legal action the UK Supreme Court ordered the government to come up with a new plan to meet the pollutant limits as quickly as possible. Thanks to EU law, citizens of the UK were protected from their own governments failings.

The Current Government Are Failing Green Incentives

The Current Government Are Failing Green Incentives

That for me is the beauty of the EU. The current UK government is failing on so many levels to be “green”, since the Conservative party took majority rule and were no longer watered down by the Liberal Democrats a year ago they have been destroying the green credentials this country has. We are all aware of how their badger cull is based on lacklustre science, but they have steadily been decimating green initiatives across the board. As subsidies for solar and onshore wind power were slashed the door has been swinging opened the door for fracking under national parks; just last week fracking was given the go-ahead in Yorkshire National Park.

The North Yorkshire Moors which stand to be suffer from fracking. Photograph: Alamy

The North Yorkshire Moors which stand to be suffer from fracking. Photograph: Alamy

If we leave the EU we stand to lose our final protections, yes many of their laws are written into our own law now but if we leave the EU our government can remove them. The fact that we have not managed to shake our reputation as the dirty man nearly 50 years later is worrying. Jules Howard recently wrote in the Guardian about how he finds faith that although leaving the EU may sacrifice our our environment, it may stop us holding back the rest of Europe. We are constantly voting against improved environmental laws and trying to undermine existing ones, thus our presence in the EU is threatening other countries environmental protections.

Of course the EU referendum is about other things not just the environment and many readers will hold their own feelings about these which may sway their vote. For me the real logic however is that none of the other factors will mean anything if our environment isn’t protected, vital ecosystem services are linked intrinsically to these factors so we must strive to protect them.

I personally don’t trust the current government to maintain our environmental laws without the EU watching them closely. I expect that if we leave the EU they would be torn down in the name of economic progress, with  the usual short-sightedness of politicians like George Osborne. So if you believe in protecting the environment I urge you to think carefully about the vote you place on the 23rd June.

 

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Emily Stewart
Owner of Inspirewildlife - a site dedicated to sharing positive conservation news stories from around the world. Zoo Management Graduate from University of Chester
Emily Stewart

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1 Response

  1. Dave Blake Dave Blake says:

    Have you considered that our environmental protections might increase if we were to leave? Recently, I was in a meeting with the CEOs of agricultural businesses and I heard one person expounding on how we would be better out of the EU. He regards the subsidies offered to farmers as payments made to private people in order to have over-sight and control of their businesses, their lives and homes. He is looking forward to a future without subsidies, without the regulations that hamper his decisions and his ability to run a profitable business.
    I pointed out to him that the history of environmental, farming and fishery regulation through the EU is that the UK has very often argued for more exacting standards, to go further, faster and make directives more binding and timescales shorter. Given the evidence, it follows that left to our own devices we would replace whatever needs to be repealed with something much more ambitious and demanding.
    I suggested that if he wanted fewer, weaker regulations, he should vote to stay in the EU where the Italian and Greek farmers could keep on pulling us back and slowing us down.

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