Our coast has some of the most beautiful, cleanest beaches in the country. That’s important for tourism, but also for us who live here.
In the last 25 years there’s been a massive improvement in our bathing waters. In 1990 just 27 per cent met minimum standards, by 2014 that had risen to 99.2 per cent.
Part of the reason was our membership of the EU, which insisted on higher standards. The EU has had an enormous positive impact on our environment. It showed that global challenges on environmental matters and climate change require international co-operation. Crucially, it helped to bind governments into action.
Now that the UK has voted to Brexit we cannot afford to backslide. Progress through EU Nature Directives protecting our most threatened species must be enshrined in any post-Brexit programme. There must also be improvement in animal welfare and water quality.
It’s worrying that one of the first acts of the new Conservative government was to get rid of the Department for Climate Change and that so many climate change sceptics are at the heart of the new administration.
Campaigners are mobilising to hold the government to account, including animal welfare groups arguing for an Animal Protection Commission and groups like Surfers Against Sewage, determined to ensure that legislation is strengthened, not weakened.
Good luck to them!