If Britain leaves the European Union all its protected wildlife – newts and bats especially – will be mercilessly slaughtered, surfers and swimmers will drown in raw sewage and the air will become so toxic that birds will drop dead out of the sky.
Well, so all the environmental charities are warning, in line with the Dear Leader’s #ProjectFear.
Britain’s biggest environmental charities have been accused of using public donations to campaign for staying in the European Union.
The charities watchdog will on Monday issue new guidance on political neutrality after Friends of the Earth, The Wildlife Trusts and Greenpeace all made public comments backing EU membership.
The charities have all insisted that Britain being a member of the EU is vital to protecting Britain’s wildlife – with one suggesting that those backing Brexit want to make the country “the dirty man of Europe”.
Gosh, I wonder what possible reason they could have for breaching the terms of their charitable status and politicking so nakedly for a cause which has little to do with their remit.
Here’s a clue from a report produced by the Institute of Economic Affairs called Euro Puppets: the European Commission’s Remaking of Civil Society.
It lists how much Europe’s leading wildlife charities receive from the European Union – and what proportion this represents of their total funding. (The figures are for 2011)
Birdlife Europe €332,163 (35 per cent)
CEE Bankwatch Network €836,238 (45 per cent)
Climate Action Network Europe €295,022 (33 per cent)
European Environmental Bureau €894,000 (41 per cent)
European Federation for Transport and Environment €275,516 (16 per cent)
Health and Environment Alliance €362,992 (59 per cent)
Friends of the Earth Europe €1,195,259 (46 per cent)
Naturefriends €365,735 (41 per cent)
WWF European Policy Office €599,954 (13 per cent)
Outside Europe, the EC has awarded grants to such groups as Friends of the Earth International (€814,243), WWF Pakistan (€1.6 million) and WWF Indonesia (€0.5 million).
So when we hear Craig Bennett, chief executive of Friends of the Earth, warning that Brexit will make the UK “the dirty man of Europe yet again”, he’s not exactly speaking from a position of strict objectivity, is he?
That said, I suspect that even if these green charities weren’t heavily bankrolled by the European Union, they would still be agitating for Britain to remain a member. We know this first because of the example of Greenpeace – not EU funded but still very much in favour of the EU project. And secondly, because all environmental charities are by nature sympathetic to the EU’s communitarian, anti-democratic, anti-free-market aims. Environmentalism has long been one of the main excuses the EU has used to enlarge its powers because the “environment has no borders.”
But the practical effects of the EU’s environmental policies – as lobbied for by its amen corner in the green charities sector – are almost invariably grotesquely intrusive and absurdly counterproductive.
The grotesquely intrusive part can be seen, for example, by any building developer or homeowner who has ever come up against one of the EU’s directives designed to protect bats and newts.
Here’s one example provided by m’learned friend Christopher Booker, from an unfinished book he was writing on the EU.
In Leicestershire, it is reported, a row has broken out over revelations that a £15 million county council road scheme had been delayed for three months when environmentalists produced evidence that the site might be home to ‘between one and ten great crested newts’, These are a protected species under Annex 2 and Annex 4 of the European Union’s Habitats Directive (1992/43). To damage their habitat is a criminal offence.
The council had therefore spent an additional £1 million on building special ‘newt-proof’ fencing to create a 1,000 yard exclusion zone round the site, with the intention of capturing the newts to relocate them elsewhere. An exhaustive search then revealed that there were no great crested newts in the area after all.
This is not just a British problem. In Bulgaria, some relatives are currently trying to sell some land for development and are being blackmailed by “environmentalists” trying to get a cut of the proceeds. They have threatened to “find” (ie tactically drop) some protected newts onto the land being sold – meaning it cannot be developed (or not at least without extensive, costly newt-protective measures). I gather this Mafia-style “you paya da money or we droppa da newts” is rife on the Continent. And why wouldn’t it be? This is precisely the kind of corruption that high-handed, ill-thought-through environment policy engenders.
Amazing, though, isn’t it how environmental concerns and directives suddenly become irrelevant when the said development project accords with the EU’s own agenda? Wind turbines, for example, whose sole raison d’etre is to conform with the EU’s carbon reduction policies. They wouldn’t exist otherwise.
With good reason do I call them bat-chomping, bird-slicing eco-crucifixes – because liquidising avian fauna is about all these monstrosities are good at.
As Oxford University ecologist Clive Hambler reported, the devastation they’re wreaking on the world’s bat population is especially worrying because bats don’t reproduce very quickly.
Bats are what is known as K-selected species: they reproduce very slowly, live a long time and are easy to wipe out. Having evolved with few predators — flying at night helps — bats did very well with this strategy until the modern world. This is why they are so heavily protected by so many conventions and regulations: the biggest threats to their survival are made by us.
And the worst threat of all right now is wind turbines. A recent study in Germany by the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research showed that bats killed by German turbines may have come from places 1,000 or more miles away. This would suggest that German turbines — which an earlier study claims kill more than 200,000 bats a year — may be depressing populations across the entire northeastern portion of Europe. Some studies in the US have put the death toll as high as 70 bats per installed megawatt per year: with 40,000 MW of turbines currently installed in the US and Canada. This would give an annual death toll of up to three -million.
So if EU bat protection regulation is so stringent how do any of these wind turbines get planning permission?
Simple. The developer goes to a specialist environmental consultancy whose experts – for a handsome fee – will testify before planning officer that no, in their opinion, the bats are not going to be remotely affected by this particular turbine, in fact they’ll probably love it and breed more as a result.
I joke only slightly. One of the many perversions of green ideology is the grotesque hypocrisy it encourages in its adherents: here are people who presumably went to college to study their crappy ecology and environmental sciences degrees out of a passion for nature now abusing their qualification in order to give exactly the kind of greedy developers they ought instinctively to hate a spurious excuse to kill a protected and vulnerable species.
And we haven’t even got on to perhaps the most shaming consequence of all of EU environment policy – the diesel car fiasco which is helping to cause 40,000 premature deaths each year. (This figure is for Britain alone. Add in the rest of the continent and must run into the several hundred).
The full story is laid out in shocking detail by David Rose: despite many warnings from experts that the health hazards of diesel were significantly greater than of petrol, successive British governments incentivised (through the tax system) the growth of diesel car usage because, supposedly, this would be more CO2 friendly. This was in response to EU anti-carbon regulations.
The 1993 report’s lead author, Prof Roy Harrison of Birmingham University, revealed yesterday that in the closing years of John Major’s government in 1996 and 1997, he sat on another committee that advised Whitehall on diesels and the environment.
He said: ‘We recommended that because of the health issues around diesel, instead of giving it tax breaks, duty on diesel fuel should be increased relative to petrol. The Government responded by saying it would be better to do this through vehicle duty. So when I discovered that its successor had done the reverse by effectively cutting duty for diesels, I was very concerned.’
The New Labour government decided to do that in the wake of a 1998 EU directive, which compelled Britain to cut CO2 emissions from vehicles by 25 per cent by 2020.
What I find so extraordinarily dishonest about the Remain campaign is the way it warns with such certainty about Brexit risks which can only, by definition, be hypothetical. Yet the disasters and inconveniences and damage brought about by Britain’s EU membership are not imaginary. They are real and ongoing. In few areas is this more obvious than in environmental policy. Time to leave the sinking ship, pronto.