A potential British exit from the European Union could have a serious impact on the way environmental issues are taken into account in future infrastructure projects.
Results from a new poll conducted among the UK members of the Institute of Environmental Management & Assessment (IEMA) reveal concern for the way that environmental issues will be addressed or even acknowledged as part of future infrastructure decision-making if the United Kingdom is to exit from the European Union.
A British exit from the European Union, or Brexit, has been a talking point for several years now. The recent furor regarding such a possibility stems from the upcoming referendum that is being held on Thursday, June 23, to decide whether Britain should stay or leave the European Union.
There are innumerable issues to be raised when discussing the Brexit, but an oft-overlooked concern is what such a decision will do to the UK’s already wobbling renewable energy industry and climate policies. The UK Government has already made numerous unpopular decisions with regards to its renewable energy industry and its climate policies, being attacked from within and without.
The most recent is the recent poll results from UK members of the Institute of Environmental Management & Assessment, a membership organization for individuals involved in environmental management and assessment. According to the results of the survey, two-thirds of respondents believe the way environmental issues are taken into consideration in infrastructure decision-making would be greatly reduced or removed altogether. Half of all respondents are concerned that opportunities for the public and communities to engage in the decision-making process on new local infrastructure projects would be reduced if the UK was to exit the EU. 43% of respondents believe the current engagement process would be retained, with only 7% saying it might be enhanced.
“Environment and sustainability professionals recognize the importance of EU policy and regulation in helping to drive environmental improvements,” said Martin Baxter, IEMA’s Chief Policy Advisor. “Whichever way the vote goes, it is essential that environmental issues continue to be factored into infrastructure decision-making and that those potentially affected are given opportunities to participate.”
At the same time, the UK’s Energy and Climate Change Minister Lord Bourne, speaking to BusinessGreen, warned of the uncertainty that would stem from having to renegotiate the country’s position within Europe would be significantly damaging to the UK renewable energy industry. Lord Bourne noted that he “can’t conceive” of a single reason why the UK would be better off by exiting the EU, and that in leaving, the UK’s energy industry risks substantial disruption. Specifically, Lord Bourne highlighted the UK’s wind industry, which is so reliant upon large European firms such as DONG Energy and Siemens. “We operate with [the likes of DONG and Siemens] through the benefits of the European Union, so the uncertainty that would arise from having to renegotiate our position within Europe would be massively damaging,” he said. “To them, to us, to the renewables industry and to everybody who benefits from it.”
With regards specifically to efforts to halt and reverse the loss of biodiversity in the UK, 93% of respondents to the IEMA poll believed that the UK’s best bet is to stay within the EU biodiversity policy frameworks, or at least aligned to the EU.
Lord Bourne and UK members of the IEMA are simply the latest to make public their fears of a Brexit.
Earlier this year, the Institute for European Environmental Policy published a report which concluded that UK’s potential exit from the EU could result in “significant consequences, not only for policy, law, and trade relations, but for the environment.”
While WWF-UK isn’t taking sides in the debate, it nevertheless concludes that, “on balance, Britain’s membership of the EU has delivered benefits for our environment — such as reduced air and water pollution, reduced carbon emissions, increased recycling, clean beaches, and protected areas for rare species and habitats.”
Have a tip for CleanTechnica? Want to advertise? Want to suggest a guest for our CleanTech Talk podcast? Contact us here.
CleanTechnica Holiday Wish Book
Our Latest EVObsession Video
CleanTechnica uses affiliate links. See our policy here.