It says that EU membership has been a crucial factor in shaping UK environmental policy on air and water pollution, and biodiversity.
Mary Creagh MP, EAC chair, said: “The UK has cleaned up its act since we were dubbed the ‘dirty man of Europe’ in the seventies. EU environmental laws have played a key part, and mean we bathe on cleaner beaches, drive more fuel-efficient cars and can hold Government to account on air pollution.”
The Committee says EU membership has given the UK a platform to pursue its environmental objectives internationally, and influence the strategic, long-term direction of policy.
EAC – “When it comes to protecting our natural environment and dealing with global problems like climate change, the overwhelming evidence is that EU membership has improved the UK’s approach to the environment and ensured that the UK’s environment has been better protected”
It says it has ensured that environmental action in the UK has been taken on a faster timetable, and more thoroughly than would otherwise have been the case.
The EAC inquiry heard concerns that a UK outside the EU would still have to follow some EU environmental legislation, but with significantly less ability to influence how it is developed.
Ministers told the Committee that a vote to leave would result in a “long and tortuous negotiation”. Business representatives felt a leave vote could remove long-term certainty.
“Inside the EU we can influence and improve EU environmental law,” Creagh says. “Our voice at the Paris climate change conference was louder because we were part of a club of 28 countries.”
The overwhelming majority of witnesses said that there were benefits to solving some of our environmental problems multilaterally, and that the UK’s membership of the EU has ensured that the UK environment has been better protected.
“Environmental problems don’t respect borders,” Creagh concluded. “When it comes to protecting our natural environment and dealing with global problems like climate change, the overwhelming evidence is that EU membership has improved the UK’s approach to the environment and ensured that the UK’s environment has been better protected.”
Voters will decide whether the UK should remain a part of the EU on 23 June.
A CIWM Journal Online survey conducted earlier this year found that just over two-thirds (68%) of respondents believe “Brexit” would have a negative effect on waste and resources policy in the UK.
Visitors to the site were asked whether Britain’s exit from the EU (“Brexit”) would have a detrimental effect on waste and resources policy in the UK?
68% percent of respondents believed it would, while 32% were of the opinion it would not.
In January a group of environment and conservation experts, including four former chairs of UK environment agencies wrote to the Defra Secretary of State Liz Truss, to voice their concerns about the risks to the environment if Britain leaves the EU.
They said that EU policy “has had a hugely positive effect on the quality of Britain’s beaches, our water and rivers, our air and on many of our rarest plants and animals and their habitats”, and that it is “very unclear” which elements of existing European environmental policy would continue to apply to the UK.
“We would no longer be able to shape EU policy and our influence on the environmental performance of other member states would decline very sharply once we were no longer at the negotiating table,” the group says.
However, according to resource efficiency firm, ecosurety, Brexit is nothing more than a “red herring” and will have little impact on the waste and recycling industry.
It says in the event of the UK leaving the EU, companies producing battery, packaging or electrical and electronic waste (WEEE) will still be required to accept their responsibilities as producers, and provide evidence of those obligations, believes the organisation.