UK’s major environmental organisations unite to highlight “once in a generation opportunity” for the environment as UK exits the EU

Thursday 8th December 2016

Thirteen major environmental organisations including WWF, the National Trust, RSPB, The Wildlife Trusts and Friends of the Earth have united through a new Greener UK coalition to ensure that the UK uses the pivotal moment presented by the forthcoming Brexit negotiations to restore and enhance the UK’s environment.

• 13 environmental organisations, with a combined membership of 7.9 million, have united to launch Greener UK

• Greener UK calls on the Prime Minister to restore and enhance the UK’s environment and maintain its environmental protections during Brexit negotiations

• 145 MPs have signed the Greener UK Pledge for the Environment committing to make the UK a world leader on the environment

• Polling shows 80% of British adults think we need the same or stronger levels of environmental protection after we leave the EU

In a letter to the editor of the Times today, Greener UK states that leaving the EU presents significant challenges but also important opportunities for the UK’s environment. It calls on the Prime Minister to state her commitment to using the forthcoming Brexit negotiations to restore the UK’s environment and maintain its protections, many of which have been developed with the EU. They have welcomed the government’s environmental ambitions but say that the UK’s natural environment is at risk, with over half of species declining, temperatures rising and poor air quality damaging people’s health. 

Alongside the launch of the coalition, 145 MPs from across the UK’s political parties have signed up to the Greener UK coalition’s Pledge for the Environment. In the pledge, the MPs state their belief that the UK government, working with the governments in Belfast, Cardiff and Edinburgh, must build a healthy and prosperous future. The MP signatories also commit to do everything in their power to:

• establish the UK as a world leader on the environment by matching or exceeding current environmental, wildlife and habitat protections;

• ensure that the UK leads on climate action

• create a countryside richer in nature by supporting farmers and landowners to deliver environmental benefits alongside a thriving farming sector.

In addition to the launch of the coalition and the Pledge for the Environment, a recent YouGov poll revealed that four in five British adults think Britain should have the same (38%) or stronger (42%) environmental protection after it leaves the EU. At the same time, around two in three Brits think that the environment will either stay the same (40%), or worsen (27%) when we leave the EU.

Dr Mike Clarke, Chief Executive of RSPB, commented: “Now more than ever, the natural environment is at risk, both at home and overseas. The Greener UK coalition believes we have a once in a generation opportunity to ensure that we protect and enhance the UK’s natural environment and wildlife, reduce our footprint on the global environment and build a healthy and prosperous future for all. The negotiations on our future following the EU referendum must provide the impetus we need to protect and secure our country and our planet for future generations. ”

Conservative MP Kit Malthouse, MP for North West Hampshire, said: “This is a defining moment for the environment. The government’s ambition to restore our natural world for the next generation means we’ll need to value our air, water and wildlife properly and strengthen our efforts to protect them, across political divides and across the country, from inner city to countryside and coast. I’m delighted to welcome the Greener UK coalition, bringing together the support of millions of people who want us to invest in nature for the next generation”

Labour MP Lisa Nandy, MP for Wigan, said: "The UK’s environment will be hugely affected by the upcoming EU negotiations and the government must ensure it keeps our commitments to protect our environment for future generations. Now more than ever the quality of the air we breathe, our changing climate, and our natural environment, both at home and overseas, is at risk. Coalitions like Greener UK are vital to ensure that the voice of millions of British people, who value our environment and want to build a sustainable, clean economy, is heard. ”


Notes to the editor

1. Greener UK is a coalition of the following organisations: Campaign for Better Transport, ClientEarth, Campaign to Protect Rural England, E3G, Friends of the Earth, Green Alliance, Greenpeace, National Trust, RSPB, Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust, The Wildlife Trusts, Woodland Trust and WWF.

2. The Pledge for the Environment, and its signatories, can be found at:

3. All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 1,578 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 29 - 30 November 2016. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 18+).

4. For more information about Greener UK please see:

5. WWF’s Living Planet Report 2016 indicates that by 2020 global vertebrate populations could have declined by 67% since 1970. The State of Nature Report shows a loss of UK biodiversity, with 15% of our native species under threat of extinction, and 53% in decline.

6. The letter reads as follows:

We are thirteen of the UK’s major environmental organisations, with a combined membership of 7.9 million, who have come together as Greener UK to ensure that our environment is restored and enhanced as we leave the EU. 145 MPs agree with us and have signed our Pledge for the Environment. Leaving the EU presents significant challenges but offers important opportunities to go further and reverse the decline in the UK’s natural environment.

We are calling on the Prime Minister to commit to using the upcoming Brexit negotiations to restore and enhance the UK’s environment and make sure its current protections are not lost. The UK can be home to thriving wildlife and beautiful landscapes, and should continue to be one of the best places in the world to live, for this and future generations.

Yours faithfully,

Mike Clarke, Chief Executive, RSPB
Stephanie Hilborne OBE, Chief Executive, The Wildlife Trusts
Glyn Davies, Acting Chief Executive, WWF-UK
Stephen Joseph, Executive Director, Campaign for Better Transport
Shaun Spiers, Chief Executive, Campaign to Protect Rural England
James Thornton, CEO, ClientEarth
Nick Mabey, CEO, E3G
Craig Bennett, CEO, Friends of the Earth
Leah Davis, Acting Director, Green Alliance
John Sauven, Executive Director, Greenpeace UK
Dame Helen Ghosh, Director General, National Trust
Martin Spray CBE, CEO, Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust
Beccy Speight, CEO, Woodland Trust

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