E4E (Environmentalists 4 Europe) group includes likes of Bill Oddie and prominent Conservative, Lib Dem and Green Party politicians
A new cross party pro-EU campaign group which launched in Westminster this week (February 3) has praised the impact of â€œambitiousâ€ European legislation on tackling air pollution.
Officially launched in the House of Lords on Wednesday with the support of a number of prominent politicians, E4E (Environmentalists for Europe) argues that the UK should remain a member of the European Union as solutions to environmental issues require â€œglobal solutionsâ€.
Boasting TV wildlife presenter Bill Oddie as its patron, the group also argues that Europe â€œhas one of the most advanced legislative frameworksâ€ on environmental protection and that being an EU member â€œhas meant cleaner air for us to breatheâ€.
The group therefore aims to ensure that the debate over the UKâ€™s EU membership â€œwill not only be about economics but also on the environmental implicationsâ€ and will over the coming months highlight the importance of the UK-EU partnership in achieving environmental goals.
According to E4E â€œpollution released into the air from one country affects the quality of air across our bordersâ€ and the EU â€œhas been the leading voice on the international stage in calling for action on a range of conservation topics, and negotiating with the biggest polluters and emitters globallyâ€.
E4Eâ€™s steering committee includes patron Mr Oddie, a well as journalist Michael McCarthy and the director of NGO Green Alliance, Matthew Spencer.
Several prominent politicians are also on the E4E committee, such as former UK environment minister and Richard Benyon MP, Green Party MP Caroline Lucas, chair of the UK Climate Change Committee Lord Deben and Lib Dem environment spokesperson Baroness Parminter.
Mr Oddie said he was â€œdelighted and honoured to be the Patron of Environmentalists for Europeâ€, while Ms Lucas MP said â€œthe battle on the EU is bigger than Cameronâ€™s re-negotiationsâ€.
Conservative Party politician Lord Deben emphasised that Europe was about gaining sovereignty in order to face issues such as air pollution, which is best tackled through compromise with European neighbours â€œwhich is what politics is aboutâ€.
Labourâ€™s Shadow Environment Secretary Kerry McCarthy also attended the launch of the campaign group, as did representatives from WWF, Greenpeace, the Wildlife Trust and RSPB.
Another supporter, Friends of the Earth chief executive Craig Bennet, said that that without membership of the EU, the UK risks becoming â€œthe dirty man of Europe once moreâ€.
The official launch of E4E comes during a week in which the Prime Minster revealed the draft deal he has been seeking with other Member States which are designed to modify the UKâ€™s membership of the EU.
Further details of the deal are still to be ironed out, but David Cameron has said the draft represents a â€œsubstantial changeâ€ in the UKâ€™s relationship with the EU and that he will campaign to stay in Europe ahead of a referendum on the issue, which now looks likely to be held in summer 2016.
The government has said it will hold a referendum over whether the UK should remain a member of the European Union before the end of 2017.
Last month, the environmental lawyer Angus Evers told Parliamentâ€™s Environmental Audit Committee (EAC) that exiting the EU could impact on the UKâ€™s partnership with European nations on tackling air pollution (see AirQualityNews.com story).
Concerns about the impact of leaving the EU on environmental regulation in the UK were also highlighted at a conference in London late last year hosted by the Environmental Industries Commission (see AirQualityNews.com story).