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Why Brexit is the biggest immediate threat to our environment

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After calling for an environment bill for years, I am not going to complain when one appears in the Queen’s Speech. It is vital that we address the serious environmental challenges facing our country including air and water quality, soil health, plastic pollution and – most fundamentally – the climate emergency.

So I welcome the fact that the government is introducing an Environment Bill, even though with a general election likely in the next few months, the Queen’s Speech felt more like a Conservative Party political broadcast than a realistic programme for government.

There are things to welcome in the bill, including the prospect of legally-binding environmental targets for biodiversity, air and water quality. But targets, however ambitious, cannot disguise the fact that leaving the European Union will weaken environmental protections in this country, whatever ministers claim, and targets are only meaningful if there are the policies to achieve them, and effective bodies to enforce them.

Take air quality. The government boasts of the UK’s “world-class clean air strategy”, which will be the launch-pad for further cleaning up our air. Yet this strategy has been criticised for ignoring pollution from road transport and failing to make it mandatory to protect public........

© New Statesman