Lincoln, UK – United Kingdom has voted to leave the European Union. Before the referendum, the Institute of Environmental Management & Assessment (IEMA) collected over 4,000 expert views on key environment and sustainability risks and opportunities associated with a potential “Brexit” in the lead up to the referendum. The environment and sustainability profession thus offered a series of compelling views on how the UK’s environment might be affected should the UK vote to leave Europe.
One standout statistic is that the majority of respondents believe both the Vote Leave and Vote Remain campaigns have poorly addressed environment and sustainability issues in the lead up to the referendum, despite 75 per cent of respondents thinking that these issues will be at least of some importance in voters’ minds when they cast their vote. 86 per cent believe that voters do not have sufficient information to take environmental issues into account when they cast their votes tomorrow.
EMA’s Chief Policy Advisor Martin Baxter underlined: “Environment and sustainability professionals recognise the importance of EU policy and regulation in helping to drive environmental improvements.The decision on whether the UK remains or leaves the EU is important in terms of environmental protection. Whatever the outcome of the ballot, the profession will work hard to ensure effective policy to deliver environmental protection and enhancement.”
The profession’s Top Ten Brexit Views include:
- The overwhelming majority believe the UK has benefited from EU environment and climate policy and that European membership has been positive for UK business.
- 82 per cent believe that operating within the EU provides a policy landscape that is more stable and therefore potentially more effective for both businesses and the environment over the medium to longer term.
- Most think that the UK is influential in the development of EU environment and climate policy (78 per cent) and that being part of the EU gives the UK more international clout, with the ability to exert greater international influence on environmental outcomes by working within the EU block of 28 countries (82 per cent).
- The vast majority (93 per cent) believe that efforts to halt and reverse the loss of biodiversity in the UK are best addressed within (80 per cent) or aligned to (13 per cent) EU policy frameworks.
- There’s concern about the way environmental issues could be addressed as part of infrastructure decision making if the UK leaves Europe. Two thirds believe the way that environmental issues are taken into account in infrastructure decision making would be reduced or removed altogether.
- The majority of environment and sustainability professionals (81 per cent) believe that European laws and regulations are important in providing them with a framework for being able to deliver environmental protection and environmental improvements.
- If the UK were to leave the EU, 60 per cent believe that there will be a lower level of legal protection for wildlife and habitats.
- Of those involved in EIA, 80 per cent believe that the EIA Directive has enhanced the way that environmental issues are factored into development consent decisions for major infrastructure projects.
- 88 per cent of environment and sustainability professionals say EU policy approach needed to address air pollution.
- Two thirds of environment & sustainability professionals believe waste and recycling performance would be hit if the UK leaves the EU and 71 per cent of respondents say business collaboration towards circular resource economy would be reduced if the UK leaves the EU.
Source: Institute of Environmental Management & Assessment (IEMA)