Environmental Audit Committee hears evidence on policy impacts of referendum
An exit from the EU could impact future partnerships between the UK and other European nation on tackling air pollution, the Environmental Audit Committee has heard.
Environmental lawyer Angus Evers, of London law firm King & Wood Mallesons, highlighted the issue at a session of the Committee’s inquiry into EU environmental legislation this week.
The inquiry, which was launched in October, aims to inform debate on environmental policy ahead of the referendum on the UK’s continuing membership of the EU – scheduled to take place before the end of 2017.
Mr Evers, who was speaking in his capacity as co-convener and member of the UK Environmental Law Association (UKELA), told the Committee there were many factors to consider when asked if the UK’s membership of the EU acted as a constrain on its green ambitions.
He said: “With any environmental policy or landscape there will always be factors that have local impacts and some with cross boundary impact. One example is air quality. We need a framework across Europe to deal with air quality issues, such as incinerator pollution in the UK being blown across the North Sea and vice versa.â€?
On the prospect of the UK leaving the EU he added: “I think it would very much depend on what the nature of the UK’s relationship with the EU is post an exit. Would we be members of EFTA [European Free Trade Association]? We need to look at the UK’s participation in a number of other treaties. There’s a lot of international law out there which the UK has ratified and a lot of that has been adopted by the EU.â€?
Chaired by Huw Irranca-Davies, Labour MP for Ogmore, the Committee also heard from panellists Diane Mitchell, chief environment adviser for the National Farmers Union, and Martin Harper, director of Conservation for the RSPB.