Green reasons to stay in
Sir: As Conservatives we are clear that the European Union has been central to improving the quality of the UK’s environment. European policy is not always perfect, but on environmental issues it has allowed us to move forward in leaps and bounds.
The wealth of the environment on which our economy depends is not confined to national boundaries, which is why the EU has become such a vital forum for negotiating Britain’s interest in maintaining healthy seas, clean air, climate security and species protection.
It is largely thanks to European agreements that we now have sewage-free beaches in Britain. Because of tough European vehicle standards, British car drivers spend less on fuel. And it is because of European legislation that some of the UK’s rarest birds have started to recover after decades of decline.
There will be many arguments in the coming weeks on the merits for and against staying in the EU but, for environmental sustainability, we believe that Brexit is likely to damage our interests.
We would lose influence over the environmental impact of neighbouring countries, whose behaviour affects the migration of our wildlife, the pollution of our air and the health of our seas. It could also weaken our efforts to tackle climate change and undercut existing UK environmental protections, since there is no guarantee that the high standards we have negotiated within Europe will remain in place in Britain.
We are clear that the way to create a better environment for UK citizens is to strengthen environmental action through European cooperation, not by leaving the EU.
John Gummer, Michael Heseltine, Chris Patten and Caroline Spelman, former environment secretaries; Greg Barker, former climate change minister; Richard Benyon and Tim Yeo, former environment ministers; Charles Hendry, former energy minister; Laura Sandys, former member of the Energy and Climate Change Committee; Stanley Johnson, former Conservative MEP
Sir: Roll on 24 June.