The EU benefits the environment

It’s a shame that environmental issues have featured so little in the referendum campaign to date. Not only is environmental policy a vitally important part of the decisions we take jointly at European level, but it’s also one of the EU’s biggest success stories.

So I was delighted to read the results of a major independent study by UK researchers, including several from the University of York in my constituency, analysing the effects of EU membership on Britain’s natural environment.

Their overall conclusion is simple:

The net environmental benefits of EU membership have been positive. These include:

  • Action taken to fulfil EU obligations is a major factor underpinning the marked improvement in environmental quality in the UK since the 1980s.
  • The EU’s effect is most evident in areas such as water quality, waste recycling and the protection of natural habitats.
  • EU policies have stimulated significant infrastructure investments in offshore wind power and water treatment (e.g. the Thames tideway tunnel) which will generate environmental benefits for decades to come.

But the researchers also warn that:

The environmental effects of being in the EU are very well-documented, but this international report finds that the implications of a Brexit are much less understood.

You can read a summary from the University of York, or read the full in-depth study (some 60,000 words!).

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