Reacting to the UK vote to leave the EU, Dr Richard Dixon, Director of Friends of the Earth Scotland, said:

“The vote to leave the EU is a huge challenge to decades of progress on improving the environment and tackling climate change. Many of the politicians backing the leave vote are climate sceptics and against renewable energy, and much of the ‘red tape’ they complain about are the laws that have given us cleaner air and water, and forced companies to reduce pollution. In the 1980s our environmental record had us known as the ‘dirty man of Europe.’ The fight is on to stop us slipping back to the bad old days.

“One of the biggest reasons for being in the EU has been to work together to tackle climate change. Being out of the EU will mean the UK will have to negotiate its own climate targets with the UN and the people in charge are very unlikely to share Scotland’s high ambition.

“The current UK government has been desperately unenthusiastic about renewable energy, holding back offshore wind and solar developments in Scotland. EU targets helped to push them a bit but any new UK government is likely to be even more of a blockage to unlocking Scotland’s huge renewable energy potential.

“There will likely be a huge fight at the UK level to keep laws which protect nature, prevent pollution and set standards for a clean environment. Most of EU environmental law is devolved to the Scottish Parliament so Scotland can decide to keep these protections in place but we will still feel the impact of deep cuts to budgets for the environment. As a society we lose the protection of being able to appeal to European courts if either the UK or Scottish governments are failing to protect the environment.”

ENDS

Notes to Editors

1. FoE’s briefing on the EU and the Environment is here: http://www.foe-scotland.org.uk/node/2166
2. Friends of the Earth Scotland is:
* Scotland's leading environmental campaigning organisation
* An independent Scottish charity with a network of thousands of supporters and active local groups across Scotland
* Part of the largest grassroots environmental network in the world, uniting over 2 million supporters, 75 national member groups, and some 5,000 local activist groups.
www.foe-scotland.org.uk