Article 50: The environment must not be neglected

Today Prime Minister Theresa May triggered Article 50, formally notifying European leaders of Britain’s withdrawal from the EU.

As the UK enters a crucial period of negotiations with Europe over the terms of the Brexit deal, ClientEarth has issued a warning about the serious risks ahead if the environment is neglected.

By invoking Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, the prime minister is setting a two year clock ticking on Britain’s exit from the EU.

James Thornton, CEO of ClientEarth – which is a member of the Greener UK coalition of environmental groups – said:

“Triggering Article 50 means the UK is beginning a critical phase of negotiations with the EU over the next two years. We must get the best deal from the EU because a poor Brexit deal would be catastrophic for the environment.

“The prime minister must make sure that the environment is not neglected in the upcoming negotiations and that all of our current environmental protections are put firmly into domestic law.

“We need to ensure that those protections are saved and put on our statute books for generations to come. That will give us certainty that we need for businesses, for the environment, and for communities across Britain.”

A government white paper is expected to be published tomorrow which will set out further details of the Repeal Bill, which saves existing EU derived legislation, incorporating it into UK law.

“The UK needs to work closely with Europe to find new ways to co-operate on international climate change, air quality, fisheries, and all of our common resources, because air pollution, fish, birds and other wildlife don’t respect national boundaries,” said Thornton.

The Article 50 move from the UK government comes after President Trump signed a sweeping executive order that will have a major impact on environmental and climate change policy in the US.

Thornton added: “This is a monumental and ill-considered mistake by Trump which will have a hugely detrimental impact on American citizens, on jobs and on the environment.

“The vast majority of American’s understand the need to protect the environment and tackle climate change. We must not allow progress to be turned back.

“Troubling moves like this on the international stage make it all the more important for Britain to show leadership on environmental protection, and to encourage others around the world to do likewise.”

ClientEarth will work to make sure environment laws remain strong after Brexit.

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Matthew Savage