Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

BY Jove It Was Perishing [...]

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

BY Jove It Was Perishing [...]

Article excerpt

Byline: COLUMNIST PAUL BRANNEN

BY Jove it was perishing! Five swims in one day at Bamburgh, Whitley Bay, Sunderland, Seaton Carew and Saltburn. The North Sea had not warmed up much by May but it was all in a good cause as my cold swims were to draw attention to the improved quality of UK bathing water since we joined the EU.

Back in 1995, when water quality was the responsibility of the UK government, 60% of our bathing beaches failed the clean water test. Now, as a result of having to comply with EU directives, only 3% of our bathing beaches fail the test.

Much of the referendum debate has ranged over economic territory so it was good to see the Prime Minister visiting Rainham Marshes, an RSPB sanctuary, to draw attention to some of the environmental issues at stake.

As David Cameron put it, "EU membership underpins many crucial environmental protections in the UK, while amplifying our voice in the world on vital issues like cutting global emissions. I will use our seat at the table to ensure the natural environment, biodiversity and a living, working countryside are at the heart of agricultural policy through continued reform of the CAP (Common Agricultural Policy), and that the birds and habitats directives are maintained and better implemented, both in the UK and across Europe, to ensure the diversity of our countryside and wildlife."

It will be interesting to see how the RSPB's 600,000 members respond to their charity calling for a remain vote. The case is compelling as Mike Clark, Chief Executive of the RSPB, pointed out, "The UK's membership of the EU has benefited nature and the environment in ways that would be hard to replicate if we left. We want a secure future for our most precious wildlife and the places they call home. In weighing up the current evidence, the uncertainties and the balance of risks, we have concluded that the safer option for nature is for the UK to remain a part of the European Union."

The RSPB were backed in their stance by WWF whose Director, David Nussbaum, I know from my time with Christian Aid when we worked together on climate change. …

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