28th June 2016

Following the result of Thursday's referendum, the Bat Conservation Trust urges the government to ensure the protection of the natural environment is a priority issue in negotiations concerning the UK's exit from the European Union (EU). The decision to leave must not be an excuse to turn our backs on decades of policy, legislation and action that have helped to protect some of our most remarkable and threatened species.

BCT remained neutral throughout the referendum campaign although we did ask both sides to explain how voting with them would impact on our natural environment. We were extremely disappointed, however, that both sides paid scant attention to the consequence of either outcome on our wildlife and treasured countryside. Regrettably, this meant that the effect the vote could have on the environment remained largely unknown.

The current legal protection for bats is unchanged, until such time as the UK leaves the EU. Leaving the EU does not change the fact that bats are protected under UK law and by international conventions. BCT will be working extremely hard in the coming months and years to ensure that this continues to be the case and that existing levels of legal protections are maintained or strengthened, well-implemented and well-enforced. To this end we will continue to work with our colleagues in the UK and across Europe to make sure bats and other wildlife are taken into consideration in future policy and legislative decisions. Here in the UK, we will work alongside our partners to ensure the public's decision to leave the EU does not undermine efforts to protect and restore our natural environment.

BCT deeply regrets the uncertainty that years of negotiation about Britain's future will have on the future of our natural environment. We agree with our colleagues at the Green Alliance: "The nation appears divided yet our love for the environment will always be something we have in common." Whilst it is too early to know the precise detail of how the government will negotiate the UK's exit from the EU, at BCT the extraordinary efforts of our staff, volunteers and supporters to conserve our precious bat species continue as normal.

Related newspieces:

18th April 2016 EU Referendum - Questions that need to be asked

13th May 2016 EU Referendum - a request for key information

2nd June 2016 Response from "Britain Stronger in Europe"

14th June 2016 EU Referendum Update

Please email question or press enquiries to : comms@bats.org.uk