I am deeply concerned about what leaving the European Union will do to our environment and I will work to ensure that environmental legislation is not weakened. I have written a letter to Michael Gove MP, the Environment Secretary, looking for reassurances that the Government will not abandon the targets for water quality set out in the EU Water Framework Directive.
EU rules have always represented a floor below which Governments could not fall, but with the ability for Governments to raise standards higher if they deemed it necessary. That is why I voted for New Clause 63 to the European Union Withdrawal Bill [EUWB] and why I also voted for Clause 7 that would have restricted Ministers abilities to change the law.
I am deeply concerned that without this floor the Government will look to roll back environmental protections under the guise of cutting ‘red tape.’ Some Government Ministers make no secret of their desire to turn us into a Singapore of the North Sea where environment and workers’ rights are simply commodities for companies to do with as they wish. Looking back, prior to joining what was then the European Community, the UK was known as the “Dirty Man of Europe”, with very poor environmental protections and as a consequence an environment that had been damaged.
As the Withdrawal Bill passed I backed environmentally friendly ammendments and consistently opposed giving Ministers powers they could use to harm the envrionment. As part of the European Statutory Instruments Committee I will work to ensure that the enviromental protections are retained, and strengthened where possible as we leave the European Union.