EU exit could impact cross-boundary air quality work

Environmental Audit Committee hears evidence on policy impacts of referendum

An exit from the EU could impact future partnerships between the UK and other European nation on tackling air pollution, the Environmental Audit Committee has heard.

Environmental lawyer Angus Evers, of London law firm King & Wood Mallesons, highlighted the issue at a session of the Committee’s inquiry into EU environmental legislation this week.

Angus Evers claimed an EU exit could hinder efforts to prevent cross-boundary air pollution from incinerators

Angus Evers claimed an EU exit could hinder efforts to prevent cross-boundary air pollution from incinerators

The inquiry, which was launched in October, aims to inform debate on environmental policy ahead of the referendum on the UK’s continuing membership of the EU — scheduled to take place before the end of 2017.

Mr Evers, who was speaking in his capacity as co-convener and member of the UK Environmental Law Association (UKELA), told the Committee there were many factors to consider when asked if the UK’s membership of the EU acted as a constrain on its green ambitions.

He said: “With any environmental policy or landscape there will always be factors that have local impacts and some with cross boundary impact. One example is air quality. We need a framework across Europe to deal with air quality issues, such as incinerator pollution in the UK being blown across the North Sea and vice versa.”


On the prospect of the UK leaving the EU he added: “I think it would very much depend on what the nature of the UK’s relationship with the EU is post an exit. Would we be members of EFTA [European Free Trade Association]? We need to look at the UK’s participation in a number of other treaties. There’s a lot of international law out there which the UK has ratified and a lot of that has been adopted by the EU.”

Chaired by Huw Irranca-Davies, Labour MP for Ogmore, the Committee also heard from panellists Diane Mitchell, chief environment adviser for the National Farmers Union, and Martin Harper, director of Conservation for the RSPB.


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8 years ago

Sigh. Leaving the EU does not mean we stop talking to our neighbours about issues like air quality. Get a grip, guys.

Roland Gilmore
Roland Gilmore
8 years ago

UK taxpayer bill for EU infraction fines for non-compliance with the 25-year-old
Urban Waste Water Treatment Directive is estimated by ex-Thames Water Chief
Engineer Phil Stride as £2.28 Bn. for the thirty odd kilometres of the Thames
Tideway alone. Infraction fines increase daily and will continue to
increase until at least 2023 under the current government’s policies.
Unsurprisingly, ex Secretary of State at DEFRA, Owen Patterson is campaigning
for the UK to leave the EU. While in office, he refused to listen, implement a
study or accept that modern methodology, through the introduction of
impermeable area charging to incentivise retro-fit SuDS, employing a
combination of measures including retro-fitting green roofs, real-time controls
to make better use of Inner London’s interconnected combined sewers, Zero
Carbon Homes with rainwater harvesting etc. that could resolve Tideway pollution in
less time than the Tideway Tunnel “vanity project” and at a
significantly lower cost to Thames Water’s unfortunate customers while
providing multiple (uncosted by government) benefits. Throughout the developed
world, no one else is building expensive tunnel detention tanks to hold mainly
rainwater anymore; only London. Even Washington abandoned its tunnel project
half way through to implement Low Impact Development (the USA equivalent)
instead. Add potential infraction fines for non-compliance with EU air quality directives and then ask George Osborne if he has £4-5 Bn of our taxes stashed away to pay these fines. He must be praying privately for a “Brexit” vote in the hope his government’s incompetence in dealing with these environmental and health issues will help avoid having to pay the fines.

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