This morning, interviewed for The Guardian, George Eustace, the Farming Minister, argued that leaving the European Union would benefit the environment. He said that there would be a £2 billion “green dividend”. There would also be release from “spirit crushing” directives which thwart green innovation.
“If we had more flexibility, we could focus our scientists’ energies on coming up with new, interesting ways to protect the environment, rather than just producing voluminous documents from Brussels.”
“Our objective would be to put in place a government-backed insurance scheme, similar to the one in Canada, to protect farmers from bad weather, crop failures and drops in prices. We would also have a whole suite of accreditation schemes run by the Soil Association, Rivers Trust and RSPCA to incentivise farmers to do positive things for the environment.”
Over the decades the European Union has proved an saga of ecological catastrophe.
Fishing is an obvious example.
The Common Fisheries Policy has been reformed – but only by replacing one set of insane rules with another. Previously if a fisherman caught more than his quota of (say) cod and went on fishing for haddock then any more cod that he caught had to be discarded. So dead fish were chucked back into the sea. Common sense would have allowed the quota of cod to have been exceeded for one month and then reduced the following month. But then since when did the EU have anything to do with common sense.
Anyway that rule has changed. However fishing expert Martyn Price says that the new rules the EU have come up are similarly perverse.
Price actually reckons it is even worse:
“Skippers have ended up being required to return to port and land with fish holds that are partially full of unwanted by-catch. This legislation is doing nothing but harm to the eco-system and to those in the fishing industry. In the past skippers would have returned the by-catch (along with quota discards) back in to the sea. Both the fishermen and the eco-system along with the food chain benefitted from this. For the fishermen this meant unwanted and unsellable fish could be discarded leaving greater quotas for species of fish which are profitable. The eco-system also benefitted from the return of by-catch. A proportion of the by-catch would consist of juvenile fish, of which a considerable proportion would survive the process of being caught and returned to the sea…
“Those fish species which are simply unpopular with the consumer and unsellable that were discarded in the sea were also beneficial to the eco-system being re-entered into the food chain. From the moment of discard the by-catch had become a part of the food chain, firstly being predated by seabirds. On submersion the by-catch would be predated by those fish and mammals which prey on those species. For those fish which reached the seabed and were not consumed by crustaceans, they also provided nourishment for fish in the larval stages to that of fry and fingerling, plus a source of nourishment for a diverse array of other sea life.”
“The EU on one hand claims to be the saviour of the environment, constantly passing new legislation to combat global warming or environmental damage. While on the other hand this same EU enforces legislation which bans discards, requiring fishing vessels to return from sea and land their entire by-catch, sending it to landfill to rot, yet depriving our seas and oceans of the nutrients which would break down and eventually go on to produce Dimethyl Sulfide, which all sea life requires. How can the EU be so contrary on this?”
It’s not just about fish.
The Common Agricultural Policy has subsidised the ripping up of hedgerows. It is true that it has been reformed to make it less damaging. But it is still a severely anti green policy. Far better would be to withdraw from the absurdity altogether.
There is also the EU’s insistence that VAT at the full rate be applied to solar panels and home insulation.
Then there was the EU’s promotion of diesel engines – increasing air pollution by pumping out more nitrogen oxide. That is the sort of decision you get in remote bureaucracies where the power of corporate lobbyists trumps democratic accountability.
But it is not just about scrapping the harmful policies of the EU. It is about lifting the block on beneficial reforms.
In a message to the RSPB, Eustace says:
“As a Minister in Defra for two and a half years, I have seen first-hand the damage that EU law does to policy making. It militates against good governance and policy innovation. Rather than thinking through from first principles what would really deliver for our environment, the all-pervasive nature of EU law means that our civil servants spend all their time fretting about whether we are obeying this or that EU regulation. It is very damaging and means that we stop thinking creatively about the fundamental issues. Instead, the lawyers take over. It is a deeply unsatisfactory way to tackle the complex challenges of our natural environment.”
I’m afraid the environmental case for Brexit may well be drowned out by the assorted eco lobby groups and “charities” which rely on their EU for their funding and are thus indulgent to its failing.
Yet the truth is there to be seen for those willing to face it. To go green you need to Vote Leave.