EU Withdrawal Bill and our wildlife

Walking the Itchen at Winnall Moors by Steve Page

Our wildlife is facing a critical few weeks and months ahead as our MPs consider which of our environmental laws will remain in place post-Brexit

Most of our environmental legislation comes from EU law – over the years it has helped to protect threatened species like our local brent geese, otters and Dartford warblers, and has played a part in cleaning up the coastlines, chalk rivers, and heathland they need to survive.

As the UK leaves the EU it’s absolutely vital that the best of these protections are adopted in domestic law, and are built on to create even stronger protections for our wildlife.

The same or better protections for wildlife

In the last few weeks MPs have started debating these laws as part of the EU Withdrawal Bill, which sets out how we will unpick our legislation as we leave the EU.

So we’ve contacted all our local MPs in Hampshire and the Island asking them to support some cross-party amendments which will secure these essential wildlife protections. They include proposals to:

Avoid gaps in environmental law, making sure core principles which have been successful in helping nature recover are added to UK law. This includes the idea of ‘polluter pays’, where organisations who harm our environment bear the responsibility of cleaning it up. We also want to see ‘the precautionary principle’ protected, which means potentially harmful activity like spraying new kinds of pesticides, is restricted until they’re proven to be safe.

Create new governance arrangements, so that environmental standards are properly upheld and the government is held to account. (The government has since announced that it will be consulting on a new independent body to scrutinise environmental standards, which is very much welcome.)

Restrict the use of ‘secondary legislation’, meaning new laws and regulation can’t be rushed through parliament without proper scrutiny and debate.

You can read more background information on these issues here.

Take action for wildlife

Four fifths of the British public wants to see our current environmental protections stay the same or get better. If you would like to help us safeguard our natural environment, contact your MP telling them why wildlife is important to you.