Debating the Consequences of the EU Referendum Result for the Environment, Regeneration and Planning
Heseltine Institute Policy Impact Fellow and TPR editor, Dr. Olivier Sykes recently took part in a roundtable at the UK and Ireland Planning Research Conference held in Cardiff which addressed the theme of ‘The EU referendum – what just happened? Tracing the implications for planning and the environment’. Drawing on work undertaken during the EU referendum campaign which examined the decisive contribution that EU regional and structural fund investment has made to the regeneration of UK cities and regions, he joined a panel which included Trudi Elliott CBE (Chief Executive of the Royal Town Planning Institute), Gareth Clubb (Chief Executive, Plaid Cymru) and Dr. Joanne Hunt (Cardiff Law School). The discussion considered the implications of what a UK so-called ‘Brexit’ from the European Union might mean.
Key issues discussed included the role that EU legislation has played in improving the environment in Wales and the rest of the UK by providing strong environmental laws which can be used to compel polluters to improve their environmental practices. The current ‘flux’ in the UK government was also discussed with a view that in a confused rudderless situation civil servants may be more receptive to new ideas and thinking. But there was agreement that this seemed small consolation compared to the loss of certainty for environmental standards and targeted investment from EU Structural Funds on poorer communities which any UK departure from the EU would entail. There was also discussion on the panel and in the room of the implications of the way the referendum was conducted for the use of expert knowledge in society and some soul-searching about the public utility of academic research if its value is to be downplayed and decried in public debates.
The roundtable was sponsored by Town Planning Review, the world’s first academic journal dedicated to study and reflection on town planning, which celebrated its centenary in 2010. The journal has always had an international outlook which will be strongly maintained regardless of the aftermath of the EU referendum.