Much of EU legislation is a paper exercise and either doesn’t get enforced or has loopholes big enough to drive a bus through. Despite the EU having chemical control guidelines called REACH it is ineffective because of very high levels of poor quality and missing data, particularly on important safety information. Consequently millions of tonnes of dangerous chemicals are still flowing into products years after officials discover that they are likely causing cancer and other illnesses. https://meta.eeb.org/2019/04/03/revealed-half-of-checked-chemicals-unsafe-in-current-commercial-use/
Many believe the “The EU is good for the environment” but the sad truth is very different. The EU has presided over decades of habitat destruction, species decline, fish stock destruction and has failed to enforce it’s own legislation. Some legislation is so badly crafted that loopholes allow the regulations to be broken with impunity. One wonders how much influence the EU’s lobbyists had on such ineffective regulation.
Common Fisheries Policy
In 2011, the EU’s Maritime Commissioner admitted that Europe’s Common Fishing Policy (CFP) had failed.
“I have no problem to apologise if something is wrong,” she said. “We cannot afford business as usual. Maybe 10 years ago, the past, it was easier for us, in the European Commission, in governments, in the sector, to close our eyes. We cannot do that anymore because if we do our children will see fish, not on their plates, but only in pictures.” “If it’s business as usual, in 10 years only eight out of 136 stocks will be healthy.”
The reason for this long term decline in fish stocks is the process of discarding unwanted fish, most of which are dead by the time they are discarded. Fish are discarded because they are undersized, the fisherman has exceeded his/her quota or because catch composition rules impose this.
In the North Sea it has been estimated that each year one-third of the total weight landed annually, one-tenth of the estimated total biomass of fish in the North Sea, is discarded.
The CFP seeks to phase in the implementation of the landing obligation from 2015 through to 2019. The landing obligation requires that all catches of regulated commercial species on-board to be landed and counted against quota. Undersized fish cannot be marketed for consumption and prohibited species must be recorded in a logbook and returned to the sea.
When the Treaty of Lisbon was signed in 2007 fisheries conservation policy became an “exclusive competences” reserved for the European Union. When the discard policy finally comes to an end in 2019 the EU’s fisheries conservation policies will have presided over 12 years of fish stock destruction.
The EU fish discard ban OECD Observer
Discard policy nears end of line The Guardian
The Common Agricultural Policy
WWF, GreenPeace and a variety of other environmental NGOs have cited the Common Agricultural Policy as the largest single cause of habitat loss and species decline. The CAP pays farmers to dig up trees, bushes, wild flowers, ponds etc. to maximise yield. This creates habitat loss which in turn creates species loss. Once out of the EU subsidies will be paid for improving the lands environmental balance, reversing decades of EU environmental damage.
Since the introduction of an EU law to promote biofuels in 2009, palm oil for biofuel has increased five times. I think any school child studying A-level economics would have concluded that when all the diesel powered cars in Europe increase their usage of palm-oil, there would be a significant growth in palm oil plantations, accompanied by rain forest destruction. Now that 51% of all palm oil used in Europe is burned in diesel cars there was indeed a significant rise in palm oil plantations and rain forest destruction. The EU have now reversed this ruling and palm oil as a bio fuel will be phased out by 2030. By which time this EU policy will have significantly contributed to 21 years of rain forest destruction.
To it’s credit the EUs directives on clean beaches and the legal
action taken to enforce these directives have made our beaches safe
places to bathe. So what has gone wrong with the directives on clean
The Water Framework Directive issued in 2,000 aimed to clean up all water bodies (including marine waters up to one nautical mile from shore) by 2015. But in 2018 47% of EU water bodies fail this standard. Could it be because loop holes in EU environmental legislation allow utilities and intensive livestock farmers to dump untreated sewage into rivers with impunity? The exisence of such loopholes and the failure of the EU to close them, once again calls into question the EU’s close relations with industrial lobbying groups.
The EU banned neonicotineoids in 2013 but farmers in 13 EU states have been able to side-step the ban. The legislation allows the use of neonicotineoids in the case of emergencies. The chemical giants are assisting farmers in the creation of documentation to justify the emergency. Any approved applications are sent to the Commission, which has the power to reject and withdraw requests. It has never used that power. The exisence of such a loophole and the failure of the EU to close it, once again calls into question the EU’s close relations with industrial lobbying groups.
The Turtle Dove is the UK’s fastest declining bird species and is on the brink of extinction. Each winter it migrates to sub-saharan Africa, crossing several EU states. Yet the EU has refuses to impose a ban on the hunting of the Turtle Dove and it is legal in 5 EU states. Millions of birds are slaughtered each year, and many other migratory birds who’s species are in decline suffer a similar fate.
The substantial number of new residents we take in from overseas can fill the City of Bristol in less than two years. The required new housing is leading to environmental damage, in 2018 28,000 acres of Green Belt land were turned over for development. And this environmental damage is about to increase dramatically.
To alleviate our growing housing crisis the government propose to build 5 garden towns in a corridor between Oxford and Cambridge. This will create 103,000 new homes. Using the average UK home occupancy of 2.4 people per dwelling we can see that these homes will house approx 247,200 people. At our current rate of net migration we can fill all these homes within 11 months, just using new residents from overseas. As well as the towns, a new motorway and rail link will be built, all of which will inflict significant environmental damage. Environmental damage is not confined to the place a person lives. All these new people will need power generation, gas and electricity infrastructure, water, landfill sites, vehicles, trains, aircraft and a vast array of consumer items that must be manufactured or imported each leaving it’s own environmental footprint. People campaigned against HS2 because of its environmental damage, the damage that the Oxford – Cambridge corridor will create will make HS2 look like a small scratch on the landscape. And it will be full almost as soon as it is completed and we will have to build yet more towns and cities.
UK Environmental Legislation
It is a popular belief in the remain camp that the UK cannot or will not make decent environmental legislation. Evidence to the contrary is easily found. For example, the Clean Air Act, for example, was passed in the UK in 1956, long before we joined the European Community. The UK started to phase out lead in petrol in 1988 well before the EU ban in 2000. Recently the government banned the use of metaldeyhyde, the chemical used in slug pellets, which is blamed for significant water pollution and deaths of birds that eat the contaminated slugs. Use of metaldehyde is still legal in the EU. They have also announced new air quality measures that will aim to be in line with World Health Organisation standards, which are higher than that required by the EU.
It is also a popular belief in the remain camp that outside the EU we will not be able to cooperate on environmental matters, but we already do participate in cross border environmental agreements that do not rely on our EU membership such as the Paris Agreement on climate change and the UNs sustainable development goals. There is not reason that we cannot continue to cooperate with the EU on environmental issues once we are a non-EU member.
Outside of the EU the government will be 100% accountable to the UK electorate for it’s actions, making it much easier for the public and environmental NGOs to influence government policy. With only 10% of the votes in the EU parliament and one vote on the council of ministers we have little influence over bad EU legislation.