It is possible to read a million-and-one opinion pieces on this, and in 99% of areas it is guesswork as to whether Leave/Remain is better or worse. But there is one area where Leave is unquestionably a bad choice; nature and the environment.
If we vote Leave, we wake up with three years of a Conservative government, at least. The Farming Minister, George Eustice, is quite clear on one of their first post-exit actions. “The birds and habitats directives will go”. So said Mr Eustice just three weeks ago.
Lest we forget these are EU legislation that provides strong protection for vulnerable species and habitats. In a recent consultation the people of Britain and Europe were widely in favour of preserving, even strengthening, this legislation. But it was the Conservative government that wanted the review, and the conservative government that sat quietly while other countries parliaments recognised the democratic will of the people. They had to swallow their pride and vote for in the end, but only because they hadn’t got their way. Now we see it clearly stated that they would butcher these “spirit-crushing” measures. All in the name of the great god ‘Growth’.
In the name of ‘growth’ we have seen rail and motorway extensions routed through rare marshland and ancient, irretrievable, woodland. We have seen housing developments planned for areas where nightingales nest. We have seen planning permission granted to frack Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, National Parks, and Sites of Special Scientific Interest. All this while being held back by this EU yoke. So what will they do in three years freed of this?
Again, we have some idea already. There are areas they would like to drill/frack/mine but cannot under EU legislation. So Snowdonia, the Lake District, Dartmoor, the North York Moors, all will be under far greater risk. Measures that currently force chemical companies to take a low risk approach to introducing pesticides will go, in favour of a more reactive approach where we act only when the damage is done. There will also be an inevitable deregulation around their favourite technology, fracking.
Let’s not be deluded into thinking that we can then fix this with a general election and the return of a Labour government. They have been just as guilty on fracking and HS2. All our political parties, regardless what they say for the round of applause, will always sacrifice the natural world for ‘growth’, for the benefit of big business.
The EU is not remotely perfect. It is however good for our environment, far better than any evidence suggests we would be on our own. So if you are an undecided nature lover, this is one issue where the facts are clear. Vote Remain, for nature.