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EURef: RSPB demands Remain and Leave answer environmental questions

April 22, 2016 11:24 AM
By Antony Hook in Liberal Democrat Voice
Originally published by South Lincolnshire Liberal Democrats

European flagsI remember a time, in the early 2000s, when it felt like every discussion on the future of the Liberal Democrats or of political parties in general mentioned the fact the RSPB had 2 million members whereas political parties were reduced to a few hundred-thousands between them.

This massive organisation has now spoken out in the referendum debate. It has not taken a side but demanded that each campaign answer how the environment will be effected.

My view, taking part in public IN/OUT debates every week, is that the environment itself will not swing a huge number of votes but there are some it will and it is a good example to illustrates the wider argument about co-operation versus isolationism when we face new, modern goals. The bottom line is, it is a point well worth making.

The RSPB say:

Today´s report concludes that "EU membership has been a crucial factor in shaping UK environmental policy on air and water pollution, and biodiversity". The report acknowledges this has been a two-way street, with EU legislation leading to improved environmental standards in the UK, but also giving the UK a platform to pursue its environmental objectives internationally. The Committee report also concludes that businesses like the certainty and opportunities for longer-term planning that EU policy allows.

Despite this, we have yet to have a serious response to these reports from either side in the debate. The health of the environment matters to millions of people in this country and we deserve to know from leading figures on both sides of the debate how their respective positions will help address the many challenges we face.

That's why, this week, the RSPB will be writing to the two official campaign groups - "Britain Stronger in Europe" and "Vote Leave" - asking them to set out clearly what their proposition will mean for the natural world and environment.

We will be asking them to explain how remaining in, or withdrawing from, the EU will address the crucial issues of nature protection, sustainable agriculture and fisheries, and climate change, and we will present their proposition to our members here in coming weeks.

* Antony Hook was #2 on the South East European list in 2014, is the English Party's representative on the Federal Executive and produces this sites EU Referendum Roundup.