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ENEP President addressses high level SocEnv debate on the impact of Brexit on the environment in the UK

Following the result of the EU referendum in June, for the UK to leave the European Union, environmental professionals met in London to press for the UK Government to maintain and enhance environmental protections and continues to play a leading role in environmental issues on the world stage. With the recent announcement by Prime Minister, Teresa May that all previous European laws will be transposed into British law to be curated and refined later, the importance of utilising environmental professionals to collate sound and evidence based advice for this process is greater than ever.

The Society for the Environment has taken a leadership position on this. In a report to be published early next year, entitled ‘Our Vision for Excellent Environmental Policy and Practice’, the Society will present insight from over 7,000 Chartered Environmentalists, their Honorary Fellows and professionals and experts from the wide ranging environmental sector. The purpose of this is to create a useful reference tool to signpost those who are tasked with reviewing future environmental legislation, regulation and policy towards sound information, experts and examples of best practice to base these decisions on.

As part of the process of developing this report, the Society for the Environment joined with Castle Debates and DLA Piper to host ‘Brexit: What does it mean for the environment?’ Over 150 guests were welcomed to the summit by noted environmentalist and former MEP Stanley Johnson. The event started off with presentations by Professor Paul Leinster CEnv, the former head of the UK Environment agency, Teresa Hitchcock, a partner with law firm DLA Piper, Baroness Parminter, a Liberal Democrat Life Peer in the British House of Lords and Matthew Knight, the Director of Energy Strategy for Siemens UK and Kristof De Smet the President of the European Network of Environmental Professionals.r

The main focus of the summit was to identify the threats and opportunities for the environment in the UK leaving the EU.  Guest speaker Baroness Parminter questioned the capacity of the UK to deliver upon the opportunities in the wake of cuts to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and with the incorporation of the Department for Energy and Climate Change into the new Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. She also highlighted that “political considerations cannot be ignored when deciphering what Brexit means for the environment; decisions are not always rational and evidence-based.”

Presentations also covered a thorough look at the impact of the referendum decision on environmental law and regulation from Teresa Hitchcock within the context of the UK Nations’ commitments to climate change as well as international obligations in light of a changes to the UK’s relationship with the EU.  Professor Paul Leinster CEnv focused on both the opportunities and challenges that lie ahead for the environmental policy across the UK, given devolution, the need to make a compelling evidence based case for environmental protection in order to embed environmental principles into political decision making.


Issue 51