The level of uncertainty, confusion and lack of leadership in the aftermath of the vote to leave the EU means that it is impossible to fully understand the consequences, both short and longer term, for landscape and the landscape profession.
In the run-up to the referendum, environmental matters were largely absent from the public debate. That is why the Institute developed a briefing for members and organised a debate to hear from MPs on both sides of the argument. Vote Leave, the body officially designated by the Electoral Commission to lead the exit campaign, supplied information to us to help inform our briefing. They made the following points:
• “If we vote leave we can drastically increase the amount we spend on flood defences”;
• “There is no political pressure to scrap environmental laws if we leave”;
• “EU environmental laws, like the Habitats Directive, had had a corrosive impact on business”; and
• “Important decisions on the environment will be made in Britain”.
While these points provide an insight into the views of those in favour of the UK’s departure, they by no means offer clarity on the nature of future environmental policy.
Despite this uncertainty, it is still the case that current EU legislation on habitats, birds, clean water, and environmental impact assessment have been transposed into UK law and will remain so until a future UK parliament decides otherwise. That will not change for at least two years after article 50 is activated by the UK government. The UK remains a member of the EU so members are still entitled to work and bid for contracts in the EU and for EU citizens to work here.
Our mission remains the same – to promote the landscape profession for the benefit of society and the natural and built environment. We will continue to pursue this goal, so we will be working with our Landscape Institute members to help ensure future policy and advocacy activity take account of the new reality we face.
We will also work with other organisations and professional bodies with whom we have common cause to ensure that issues concerning landscape are not forgotten in future negotiations.
We are a membership body and will therefore report the experiences of our members on how the decision to leave the EU affects their professional lives.