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Will Brexit bring the UK a sustainable future?

As the UK officially notifies that it is leaving the European Union, what are the challenges and opportunities for the UK to gain a more sustainable future?

With Theresa May’s finger now on the Article 50 trigger, uncertainty, risk and opportunity of sustainable development in terms of environment in the UK has been significantly concerned. How will the UK grab the potential chance after Brexit to build a more sustainable future?

Dr Emyr Roberts, Chief Executive of Natural Resources Wales, has cooperated with Cardiff University to discuss the future of sustainable development in Wales.

Dr Emyr Roberts, Chief Executive of Natural Resources Wales

“Brexit seems to be both a threat and an opportunity,” said Dr. Roberts, “Threat, obviously, is that we dismantle all the good things that the EU has brought in over last 40 years.”

In the past two decades, the EU policies has contributed significantly to the nature sustainable development in the UK. For example, the water framework directive project which focus on water quality has driven environmental improvements; habitat regulation has protected important species and Eco-systems; marine designations have protected important land and sea space; measures of air pollution have improved health.

“So there is a tremendous legacy there from these European initiatives. We must not throw away these real gains,” said Dr Roberts.

Building the Welsh we want

Regarding to the opportunity, Dr Roberts has suggested to devise some better policies in order to lead Britain to a more sustainable future.

“To integrate environmental, agricultural, and industrial policy that in a way the EU has not been able to,” he said.

Dr Roberts also pointed out that the government should change some unreasonable legislation brought from the EU. He mentioned the phenomenon that there are incentives for farmers to cut down trees on their farms.

“One of my many hopes and the next few years is that the UK and the Welsh governments are to take opportunity to have an integrated agricultural and environmental policy,” he said.