The report dicusses the future of the natural environment following the EU referendum

Houses of Parliament, Westminster
The Houses of Parliament, Westminster

The House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee has published a report following its inquiry into the future of the natural environment following the vote to leave the EU. Launched back in July 2016, the inquiry recognised that the UK’s membership of the EU has been a key factor in shaping the environment and invited evidence to inform its deliberations. This particular inquiry focused on land management, the role of the Common Agriculture Policy and ideas around future payments and environmental outcomes.

The Landscape Institute believes that the outcome of the referendum has created a unique and exciting opportunity to transform the way the countryside is managed to meet the needs of current and future generations. The Landscape Institute submitted written evidence to the Committee and is particularly encouraged by many of the recommendations in its subsequent report, which:

  1. Urges the Government to, before triggering Article 50, commit to a new Environmental Protection Act, so that the UK has a similar level of environmental protection as in the EU.
  2. Asks that Government recognise the interdependence of its two forthcoming 25-year plans for agriculture and the environment. The EAC argues that frameworks for the plans should be consulted on before Article 50 is triggered to inform the Government’s negotiating position and form the basis of a new Environmental Protection Act.
  3. Highlights the need to ensure that EU negotiations address the impact of international issues, including future trade arrangements, on the UK environment and agriculture. If the UK leaves the Single Market then the Government should state clearly what new measures need to be put in place to ensure the UK maintains our current level of environmental protection.
  4. Demands that Government identify legislation which may be difficult to transpose to ensure full public and parliamentary debate and scrutiny.
  5. Argues that, before Britain leaves the EU, the Government clearly establishes the environmental objectives and governance model to be used for any future land management payments. The EAC states that objectives should be clearly linked to the public goods that are to be achieved through funding rather than simply providing income support to farmers.

Recommendations 2 and 5 are particularly welcome, as these support many of the concerns highlighted in the Landscape Institute’s written evidence submission. It is now down to the Government to respond to the Committee’s report, a response which will be extremely important in providing greater clarity on the potential impact of Brexit on the future of the natural environment.

The Landscape Institute has been working with three other organisations – the British Ecological Society, the Chartered Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management and the Institution of Environmental Sciences – to explore areas of common interest relating to this particular inquiry. Together we have identified a number of principles for future policy relating to land management and the natural environment, and have today issued a joint letter to the Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs setting out our ideas in greater detail as well as our support for some of the key recommendations from the Committee’s report. Click here to view or download a PDF copy of the letter.


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