I was delighted to see the articles on various shades of Green Brexit (TNE #233). Environmental action was rarely mentioned in the coverage of the referendum but hopefully the political balance has shifted since then.
It is time to refocus how we rebuild links to Europe away from the old economic arguments which did not win.
After all, in environmental terms, we have not left Europe and never will. This is particularly true of the marine environment, where the fisheries arguments have overshadowed the need for effective sustainable management of our seas. Fish populations are affected by climate change so unless thinking is widened, current debates on quotas may become meaningless.
Overall the UK had a good record on environmental protection – in some areas at least. We will need to collaborate with European partners in the future to get solutions. Unlike the pandemic, there is no obvious vaccine to get out of climate change or the biodiversity crisis when these really set in.
I was surprised to read Rupert Read’s article (“What are the chances of a Green Brexit?” TNE #233) saying that the CAP was to blame for farming industrialisation.
My memory is of working on a battery hen farm in Northern Ireland in 1971 and of a culture of pesticides, ripped-out hedges, penned and caged animals, hormones, antibiotics and run-off from fertilisers in the UK in general long before 1973.
At this time farming in Europe was generally more traditional and the UK constantly complained that the CAP was there to subsidise ‘inefficient’ traditional methods (of French farmers in particular).
Wine lakes and butter mountains were in reality mere ponds and molehills of only a couple of weeks of European consumption and designed to maintain a minimum price to avoid bankruptcy of small scale farmers. French wine and dairy producers had not become ‘industrial’ under CAP.
If the CAP favours industrial production now (does it?) I suspect it might be due to constant pressure from the UK.
Peter Basford Herts
The European Union deserves a defence against the unfair criticism from Rupert Read. The CAP was reformed in 1992, 2003 and 2013. Further reforms are due in 2023. His “butter mountains” and “wine lakes” are decades out of date.
Phil Jones Member, European Movement UK
• Have your say by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. Our deadline for letters is Tuesday at 9am for inclusion in Thursday’s edition. Please be concise – letters over five paragraphs long may be edited before printing.