Tuesday, 21 June 2016

"In or out" for Nature?

The decision on whether we will stay in or leave the EU will be made in just a few days time during the referendum vote on the 23rd of June. In anything like this, people of course vote on what matters to them and how they see that things will impact them.

If may come as no surprise to you, but what really matters to me is the natural world and the negative impact that the enormous "world" population is having on it.

This blog is about  my concerns for British wildlife, habitats and global climate change if we decide as a country to leave. To prepare for this blog I ran a poll on twitter to see how everyone else felt about the impacts of the referendum on the natural world. I asked one simple question; "Will climate change legislation and nature protection laws be stronger in or out of Europe?" The results are below.

More than 200 people voted, and as you can see an overwhelming percentage feel that the natural world and environment would be better protected if we stayed in the EU.

Nearly all of our environmental laws are formed and backed up at EU level. According to the RSPB, the EU Nature Directives have provided the highest level of protection to vulnerable habitats and species for the past 30 years. And although they are being reviewed, they still offer strong protection.

If we decide to leave, will these laws become weaker? Weak to the point that it will be easier to get round laws/guidelines; for example climate targets, hunting laws, use of EU banned pesticides, raptor persecution, emissions etc.

During the last UK elections I blogged about my disappointment in the leaders debate, about how low down the political agenda the natural world is.  The trouble is that most decisions seem to be so short sighted. Take fracking for example. It's a quick fix to securing energy for a good few years, but what are the long term implications; would we still choose fracking if we were to #Think500YearsAhead. Maybe we would still have to due to all the short sighted decisions that have gone before.

My fear is that if we come out of the EU, the political priorities will all be about quick, short sighted wins. And where does that leave nature directives..........right at the back of the queue.  Take our bees for example. Back in July 2015 the UK government decided to suspend the EU ban on pesticides linked to serious harm in bees.  Bees are essential pollinators. One out of every three bites of food we eat is made possible by a pollinator; so why even consider using a neonicotinoid pesticide linked to serious harm in bees. Fortunately this year the temporary lifting of the ban was not granted, but who knows what will happen in the future.

The risks faced by our wildlife are growing every day, and the days are growing closer to the all important referendum. Our wildlife is under real pressure from building development and infrastructure, intensive farming and agriculture, also not to mention fisheries. This is not a problem the UK faces alone or in isolation. Migratory birds, insects and marine wildlife all cross borders; as does pollution. We need to tackle this together, as part of an agreed plan.  The risks are ever increasing and there is real urgency for international action.

All the trade and finance we seem to strive for amounts to nothing if we don't have the basic as a priority; a healthy planet.  We can only achieve a healthy planet by working together across the borders. But we are leaving it way to late to make the big, often hard decisions, needed to put things right.

I believe that climate change will be one of the biggest challenges faced by my generation. Climate change cannot be tackled as an individual; it needs joint plans, agreed action and a desire to do the right thing across all the borders.

In or out though, one thing is for certain, we all need to step up a gear in protecting our natural inheritance. We all need to #Think500YearsAhead.


  1. Nature is just one of many reasons I'm voting remain

  2. Some very wise words there Findlay and you express how many nature lovers feel. The environment seems to be so low down on the agenda - which always stuns me. My son Dara is speaking up for our natural world at an EU Ref debate today, we need more young voices to stand up for nature. Thank you for speaking out.

  3. A well written post and I'm with you. Vote for nature

  4. Really disappointing result - can't really say much more. Keep fighting Findlay!

    Cheers - Stewart M - Melbourne