May said offshore wind is “hugely important” for creating skilled jobs in the UK | Credit: EU2017EE Estonian Presidency
UK will uphold environmental standards and press ahead with clean growth, Prime Minister declares during Brexit speech at an offshore wind factory
“Brexit will not be a race to the bottom,” Prime Minister Theresa May promised today, pledging to uphold workers’ rights and environmental standards and touting the growing role of the offshore wind industry in the UK’s energy mix.
During a speech on her Brexit plans at Danish energy giant Orsted’s offshore wind factory in Grimsby, the Prime Minister promised to ensure the UK maintains an equal or higher standard of environmental protection to the EU post-Brexit.
However, she provided no further details on how such guarantees will be enforced or whether MPs will be given a say over whether the UK should match future changes to EU environmental rules.
May did praise the offshore wind industry as a “hugely important” sector for generating skilled work and clean power for the UK. Referring to the Offshore Wind Sector Deal published earlier this week, Theresa May said the industry brings “real opportunities” to industrial towns such as Grimsby.
“We are now a world leader in offshore wind, and offshore wind is bringing high-skilled jobs here and to other parts of the United Kingdom,” she said. “What we are aiming for – ensuring that a third of our energy generation is generated by offshore wind by 2030 – is enormous. That means significant increases in jobs, high skilled jobs here in the UK. It’s good for the UK and good for Grimsby.”
May used most of her speech to try and persuade MPs to vote for her Brexit Withdrawal Agreement when it comes to Parliament next week, although it remains unclear whether the government has been able to secure any concessions from Brussels to alleviate MPs’ concern over the Northern Irish ‘backstop’ arrangement.
She said her deal would mean workers’ rights would be protected and the whole economy would enjoy a boost. A giant “open for business sign” would be displayed to the world, she said.
However, business groups are increasingly fearful that with just three weeks to go until the UK is scheduled to leave the EU it remains unclear what will happen if May’s deal is again defeted and a ‘no deal’ scenario remains the default outcome. Green groups are hugely concerned that a ‘no deal’ Brexit would spark fresh calls for a watering down of environmental standards.
Earlier this week Business Secretary Greg Clark reiterated the government intended to maintain and strengthen environmental standards post-Brexit.
He revealed plans to place a new statutory duty on the government to “monitor any strengthening of environmental protections and regulations by the EU, and to report regularly to Parliament about the government’s intended course of action in those areas” – a legislative proposal that was cautiously welcomed by green groups.
But it remains unclear whether Parliament would be granted a vote on whether to match any EU changes to environmental rules, such as air pollution and fuel efficiency standards.