Friends of the Earth Scotland backs remaining in the EU

Written by Liam Kirkaldy on 7 June 2016 in News

Friends of the Earth Scotland tells voters, “If you care about the environment you should vote to remain in the EU”

Friends of the Earth Scotland has lent its backing to the remain side ahead of the upcoming EU referendum.

Despite criticising aspects of the institution, it urged voters, “If you care about the environment you should vote to remain in the EU”.

Focusing on the environmental protection brought by EU legislation, a new briefing from the campaign group argues that cross-European cooperation is the most effective way of tackling environmental challenges.


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The move follows work on behalf of the RSPB, WWF and the Wildlife Trusts also backing the remain side.

But FoE Scotland urged the EU to take a change of approach by focusing on “improving people’s lives and taking care of the shared environment we depend on, not a blind pursuit of economic growth”.

It calls on the EU to abandon the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). It also urged the EU to “overhaul” the Common Agricultural Policy and Common Fisheries Policy, with a greater emphasis on sustainability.

The FoE Scotland briefing says: “The EU is far from perfect, with currently a EU’s dogged prioritisation of economic growth at any cost, secretive TTIP trade negotiations, threats to nature laws and resistance to democratic reform.”

However it adds: “The EU now has the biggest programme of environmental legislation in the world and sustainable development is written into its treaties. A vote to leave would put our progress on the environment, as well as the employment and social rights and protections we enjoy, at risk.”

FoE Scotland pointed to EU rules stopping “bee-killing” pesticides being applied to crops in Scotland.

It said European rules have blocked thousands of dangerous chemicals from everyday products, like lead from paint and gender-bending bisphenol-A from baby bottles.

In a separate document, compiled by the Institute for European Environmental Policy, the RSPB, WWF and the Wildlife Trusts also backed continued EU membership.

Highlighting air protection legislation, as well as water and waste management policy, the report warns that “many of the initiatives to improve environmental quality in the UK would not have taken place, or would not have been pursued as effectively, without the legal pressure arising from EU legislation and the benefits to citizens and businesses would not have been realised”.

Separating UK, EU and international environmental law would be “a considerable challenge and a source of significant uncertainty”.

Friends of the Earth said EU agreements meant sulphur dioxide pollution fell by 89 per cent between 1990 and 2010.

Its briefing says: “Raw sewage used to be routinely pumped into the sea and in 1976 only 27 beaches across the UK were deemed clean enough to swim off. EU action meant by 2011 there were 597 designated beaches. Now almost all our beaches meet EU quality standards.

“In 2014, Scotland’s 84 designated bathing waters achieved a mandatory pass rate of 98% and new standards from Europe mean the water will have to be even cleaner in future.”

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