Climate change is increasing the frequency of extreme weather events and flooding. Photo: Bob Smith/grough

Climate change is increasing the frequency of extreme weather events and flooding. Photo: Bob Smith/grough

An environmental body has called on the UK Government to retain or improve protection following the country’s vote to leave the European Union.

The Institute for Environmental Management and Assessment said there is now uncertainty over the future of policies on sustainability and the environment in Britain and Northern Ireland.

The IEMA’s chief policy adviser Martin Baxter said: “The referendum vote in favour of the UK leaving the EU raises significant questions for businesses, professionals and the wider public on environmental protection policy.

“In the lead-up to the referendum, IEMA members were overwhelmingly of the view that being a member of the EU is good for business and good for the environment. There was a real concern that environment and climate policy risked being watered down if the vote was to leave. Environment and sustainability professionals will now look to the future with some sense of uncertainty.

“It is therefore essential that the government gives a commitment that, in negotiating the terms of the UK’s exit from the EU, an equivalent or enhanced level of environmental protection and climate policy will be implemented here in the UK.

“In establishing the UK’s future direction, Government must develop progressive policies for the UK to transition to a lowcarbon, resource-efficient and sustainable economy which delivers real social value over the long-term. It must seize the opportunity to accelerate the transformational change needed to meet long-term sustainability challenges and provide a much-needed boost to UK jobs and productivity.”

The institute, which has 15,000 members, said an immediate test of the UK Government’s commitment to the environment would be the adoption of the UK’s fifth carbon budget.

Mr Baxter said: “We urge the Government to adopt the independent Committee on Climate Change recommendation for a 57 per cent emissions reduction, giving a clear and positive signal of its long-term environmental commitment.

“IEMA is committed to providing leadership and support to ensure that environment and sustainability are placed at the heart of decision making and that policies are in place to develop a sustainable economy for the future.”

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