54% of those who voted to leave the EU (and 67% of those who voted to remain) said British farming subsidies should put either more or the same emphasis on environmental protection than the current EU subsidies do.
The British public are overwhelmingly in favour of keeping or strengthening EU rules that protect our natural environment - including Britain's under-threat bees - according to a new YouGov survey for Friends of the Earth published today.
The environmental campaign group is calling on the UK Government to guarantee that its Brexit strategy won't lead to any weakening of environmental protections.
The YouGov online survey of 1,687 adults in August 2016 revealed:
- 83% said Britain should pass laws providing a higher (46%) or the same (37%) level of protection for wild areas and wildlife species than current EU laws. Only 4% want lower protection.
- 57% said British farming subsidies should put either more (25%) or the same (32%) emphasis on environmental protection than the current EU subsidies do. Only 7% said British farming subsidies should put less emphasis on protecting the environment.
- 81% want to keep an EU ban on neonicotinoid pesticides that have been found to pose a threat to bees, with only 5% saying it should end.
The survey also revealed that those who voted to leave the EU were also strongly in favour of maintaining or increasing the protection for nature that is currently provided by EU legislation, and linking farming subsidies to environment protection.
Friends of the Earth campaigner Samuel Lowe said:
"This survey sends a powerful message to the UK Government that EU rules aimed at protecting our natural environment must be maintained or strengthened.
"The poll completely undermines those who argue that Brexit should lead to a watering down of the UK's environmental commitments. There is little public support for this - even from those who voted to leave the EU.
"The Government must also stand up to pressure from the NFU and keep the EU ban on bee-harming neonicotinoid pesticides. This is what the science says, and the public demands."
In January 2013, the European Food Safety Authority's (EFSA) review of evidence into three particular neonicotinoids - Syngenta's thiamethoxam and Bayer's clothianidin and imidacloprid - found that each posed a "high acute risk" to honey bees.
At the time, EFSA said that it was unable to draw conclusions on the risk to wild bees due to the lack of available evidence, which raises questions about how well pesticides are tested before being licensed for use. On the basis of its conclusions EU Member States voted to restrict the use of the three pesticides.
Brexiteers who voted to leave the EU also showed strong support for maintaining or increasing EU protection for our natural environment:
• 85% of those who voted to leave the EU (and 89% of those who voted to remain) said Britain should pass laws providing a higher or the same level of protection for wild areas and wildlife species than the current EU laws.
• 54% of those who voted to leave the EU (and 67% of those who voted to remain) said British farming subsidies should put either more or the same emphasis on environmental protection than the current EU subsidies do.
• 81% of those who voted to leave the EU (and 88% of those who voted to remain) want to keep the EU ban on neonicotinoid pesticides that have been found to pose a threat to bees.
Last week a comprehensive new study by the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology linked neonicotinoid insecticides to long-term population decline of wild bee species across the English countryside - the latest in a long-line of similar research: http://www.ceh.ac.uk/news-and-media/news/new-study-neonicotinoid-insecticides-linked-wild-bee-decline-across-england
Experts conducting a review of existing legislation for the European Commission recently concluded that the Directives are ‘fit for purpose' - working well to protect nature when they are properly implemented: http://d2ouvy59p0dg6k.cloudfront.net/downloads/study_evaluation_to_support_fitness_check_of_nature_directives__final.pdf.
An earlier UK review found the Directives protected nature without placing an unreasonable burden on business:
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