Environmental action in the UK has been “faster” and “more thorough” thanks to EU membership, according to the Environmental Audit Committee. Policy development has also been a “two way street”, the MPs concluded, with the UK influencing the direction and design of specific laws and policies.
“The overwhelming majority of witnesses said that there were benefits to solving some of our environmental problems multilaterally, and that the UK’s membership of the EU has ensured that the UK environment has been better protected,” the Committee noted in its assessment of EU and UK environmental policy.
EAC chair Mary Creagh said membership has helped the UK clean up its act since being dubbed the “dirty man of Europe” in the seventies.
But more could be done. The EAC suggested environmental standards could be improved if the UK government took a more ambitious approach to implementation of EU policies. With this in mind, a break from the Union would leave the country free to set “less stringent” standards of its own, according to “many witnesses”.
The report is designed to inform the debate ahead of June’s referendum on EU membership.