The decision to leave the European Union has created an historic opportunity to review our policies on agriculture, on land use, on biodiversity, on woodlands, marine conservation, fisheries, pesticide licensing, chemical regulation, animal welfare, habitat management, waste, water purity, air quality and so much more.
I can understand why this is a moment of concern for some. The European Union has, in a number of ways, been a force for good environmentally, which is why I am pleased that the Government has no intention of weakening the environmental protections it has seen put in place. In other areas it has not always succeeded, most clearly in relation to the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) and the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP).
The CAP rewards land-holding ahead of good environmental practice. Outside it, we can use public money to reward environmentally responsible land use. Meanwhile despite reforms that, since 2010, the UK has led, still 40 per cent of fish stocks in the Atlantic, North Sea and Baltic Sea are being fished unsustainably. By leaving the CFP, taking back control of our waters, granting access and allocating quotas based on sustainability, we can pursue the very highest standards in marine conservation.
Outside the EU we can develop global gold standard environmental policies, taking smarter, more targeted approaches to the improvements we want to see. We have an opportunity not just to halt or slow environmental deterioration, but to raise our ambitions, restoring nature and reversing decline. We can, and I believe we will, be the first generation to leave the environment in a better state than we inherited it.