Brexit Would Threaten U.K. Environment, Former Agency Chiefs Say

A British departure from the European Union, or “Brexit,” would threaten the nation’s environment by removing regulations and safeguards brokered between the bloc’s 28 member states, 14 academics and former chiefs of U.K. environmental bodies said.

U.K. membership of the EU has benefited the country’s beaches, rivers, air, animals and habitats, the experts, who include former chiefs of the Environment Agency, Natural England and the Natural Trust, said in a letter to Environment Secretary Liz Truss and released on Wednesday.

“EU coordination, legislation and policy has been critical to improving the U.K.’s environmental quality,” they wrote. “We therefore conclude that Brexit would be damaging for Britain’s environment.”

Prime Minister David Cameron is preparing to hold a referendum as early as June on the U.K.’s EU membership after months of negotiations with member states to seek reforms of the union. He has pledged to hold the vote by the end of 2017 at the latest.

“There are many issues which will decide voting intentions at the forthcoming referendum, but on this issue which is so central to the British quality of life, the case is clear: we will better able to protect the quality of Britain’s environment if we stay in Europe,” the experts wrote.

Signatories to the letter include former Environment Agency Chief Executive Officer Barbara Young, the agency’s former chairman, Chris Smith, former Natural England CEO Helen Phillips, former English Nature CEO Andy Brown, and professors at the University of Cambridge and University College London.

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