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Poll finds post-Brexit support for continued use of EU environmental standards

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Sustainability professionals within the energy sector are resoundingly in favour of continued use of environmental laws set at a European level, according to a new survey by the Institute of Environmental Management and Assessment (IEMA).

The poll found that 93% of the 669 environment and sustainability professionals included in the survey would like to see the whole body of EU environmental law continuing to have effect in the UK after Brexit.

The energy management sector emerged in last year’s referendum period as supportive of continued membership of the European Union, with the majority of consumers (64%) siding with remain, while a higher proportion of UK suppliers (79%) agreed.

The findings fall in line with one of the EU’s negotiating points that emerged when Article 50 was triggered, namely that any future relationship with the trading block would require the UK to adhere to the EU’s environmental and climate change-related policy.

Those polled by IEMA also gave a clear call for accelerating action to exceed carbon emissions reductions well before the target dates set out in the Climate Change Act, which was recently referred to as the UK’s “guiding star” for environmental action post-Brexit by climate change minister Nick Hurd.

Almost all of those asked (96%) also believe the government must place a high importance on environmental protection in trade deals.

Speaking about the outcome of the poll, which was conducted to gauge opinion before next month’s general election, IEMA’s chief policy advisor Martin Baxter said strong environmental and sustainability standards must underpin the next government’s approach.

“It is essential that the next government puts in place a long-term, ambitious policy framework for transitioning the UK to a sustainable economy. As we make plans to leave the EU, high environmental quality standards must be maintained, enhanced and consistently enforced and used to create the conditions to support UK business exports,” he said.

Baxter’s comments were backed up by the poll’s findings, which included a call from virtually all respondents (99%) for cross-party support on long-term sustainability agenda.

It also found that air quality ranks highly among the concerns of environment and sustainability professionals, with 97% saying the government must prioritise resolving the environmental, health and well-being effects linked to air pollution.

Almost half (45%) added that the critical nature of the issue could warrant it to be considered a high cross-departmental priority, with efforts to be led by the Prime Minister.

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