Deputy Leader Tanya Jones calls for assurances human and animal health and the environment will be assured in post-Brexit UK

Thursday December 7 2017

Green Party deputy leader Tanya Jones has called for clarity on how protections for human and animal health and the environment will be assured in a post-Brexit UK.

She was commenting on concerns raised by the House of Lords EU Energy and Environment Sub-Committee following an evidence session with industry experts which examined the potential impact of Brexit on the UK’s trade in waste.

The committee heard that if it becomes more difficult, and costlier, to export waste this could result in more waste being sent to landfill in the UK; illegally dumped, or being exported to non-EU countries with lower environmental standards.

Green Party Fermanagh rep Tanya Jones said the concerns were especially stark for Northern Ireland where there have already been serious issues with illegal dumping in recent years.

“This is another example of severe problems caused by the lack of direction, vision and leadership around Brexit, which has been especially damaging to sectors like waste and agriculture that need to plan for the medium and long term,” she said.

“Where a lack of policy has serious environmental implications, as this does, it is especially worrying.

“We rely on our European protections for human and animal health and to look after our unique landscape and we need to know that these protections will be retained and enhanced to meet the challenges of the future.

“This demonstrates the need for robust and visionary policies to minimise the creation of waste in the first place. This is why the Green Party has led the way on reducing waste at source with our Councillor Rachel Woods successfully putting motions to Ards and North Down Council to explore the potential for a bottle return scheme and to replace single-use plastics with eco-friendly alternatives.”

The House of Lords EU Energy and Environment Sub-Committee has written to DEFRA Minister Dr Thérèse Coffey MP, asking the UK Government to urgently provide clarity on the post-Brexit trade arrangements for waste.

The letter also highlights that 55% of all plastics the UK exports go to China but with major restrictions on this trade announced by the Chinese Government this will place an even greater pressure on the waste industry.

Chairman of the Committee, Lord Teverson, said: “Brexit could provide opportunities for the UK’s trade in waste, but the industry needs certainty in order to be able to plan and invest. Without a clear statement on the Government’s future intentions – in relation to recycling targets, regulations on product design the industry cannot predict, or prepare for, future demand.

“We invite Dr Thérèse Coffey MP to address the concerns that were raised during the discussion and look forward to hearing how the Government plans to tackle this pressing issue.”


Linda Stewart

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Image: © Fermanagh Herald, Ronan McGrade