(INDEPENDENT) – Regulations set in place to help fight climate change and protect Britain's wildlife may be destroyed following the Brexit result, top environmentalists have warned.
Reacting to the vote to leave the European Union, charity groups and climate change campaigners said the result could have a "devastating" effect on the UK environment, since more than 70 per cent of environmental safeguarding comes from European legislation.
Greenpeace UK executive director John Sauven said: "Many of the laws that make our drinking and bathing water safe, our air cleaner, our fishing industry more sustainable and our climate safer now hang by a thread… There is a very real fear that Cameron's successor will come from the school that supports a bonfire of anti-pollution protections."
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In an post-referendum statement, Friends of the Earth said the group could "no longer rely on the EU to protect our nature and habitats", adding that clean beaches, air quality and bees were among the factors put at risk by potential loss of EU legislation.
Craig Bennett, Friends of the Earth's CEO, said: "The referendum may be over but many of the difficult debates are only just beginning. The environment must be at the heart of our negotiations with Europe and how we create a positive future for our country. We cannot let the UK return to the days of 'the dirty man of Europe'. Protections for our birds and wildlife, our beaches and rivers, must not be sacrificed in the name of cutting away so-called EU 'red tape'."