Debate 73: EU Referendum - Environmental & climate change consequences for the built environment

Thursday, June 9th, 2016 | Debates

eu-flagThe EU Referendum is a once in a generation event, the outcome of which will ultimately be driven by the vote of UK citizens. It has brought an opportunity to reflect and act on Britain’s standing within the EU and our relationship with it. It can remind us where Britain was before we joined the EU, what we have accomplished as full members with other EU nations to arrive where we are now, and what made Britain want to renegotiate our relationship with the EU. The key question that the referendum raises is:
How has the EU membership affected the UK and what might change in the event of a vote to Remain or Leave?

One important aspect that deserves examination is the consequences of the different referendum options for Britain’s environmental & climate change legislation and practices in the built environment. This has not been given much discussion and limited information exists for what this means. This particular event focuses on the environmental and climate change consequences for the built environment - our cities, buildings and infrastructures.

The purpose of this event is to provide objective, factual information. It does not take a view on whether to remain or leave, but presents a clear set of descriptions and observations about the current EU environmental and climate change directives and what options arise from their withdrawal.

Topics discussed include:

  • Sustainable development assessment
  • Climate change, energy efficiency & low carbon buildings
  • Decarbonisation of the energy supply
  • Resources, recycling of materials and waste generation
  • Planning

A panel of experts was asked to provide a background on historical and current legislation and practices, along with objective information on what the different scenarios mean:

  • A UK vote to remain in the EU (the ‘reformed EU’ option
  • A UK vote to leave and become a member of the European Economic Area (EEA) - the ‘Norwegian option’
  • A UK vote to leave and negotiate free trade deals with the EU - the ‘Free Trade’ option

Chair: Antony Oliver, Antony Oliver Consulting


  • Dr Charlotte Burns, (Univ of York) - what are the different scenarios and their implications?
  • Dr Janice Morphet, (School of Planning, UCL) - how EU shapes planning policy
  • Professor Michael Grubb, (UCL Institute for Sustainable Resources) - Climate change and energy
  • Dr Robert Cohen, (Verco) - EU legislation and building energy reduction
  • Dr David Greenfield, (Social, Environmental & Economic Solutions Ltd) - EU policy and the circular economy
  • Rob Lambe, (Aldersgate Group / Willmott Dixon) - what does this mean for business?

The Debate was held in collaboration with the UCL Energy Institute - see here for their page on the debate

Venue: UCL Darwin Building Lecture Theatre

A film of the event is available on the UCL-Energy Youtube Channel here.

Baldock, D. Farmer, A. and Nesbit, M. (2016) Brexit - the Implications for UK Environmental Policy and Regulation. A special independent report commissioned by the all-party parliamentary environment group.

Burns, C., A. Jordan, V. Gravey, N. Berny, S. Bulmer, N. Carter, R. Cowell, J. Dutton, B. Moore S. Oberthür, S. Owens, T. Rayner, J. Scott and B. Stewart (2016) The EU Referendum and the UK Environment: An Expert Review. How has EU membership affected the UK and what might change in the event of a vote to Remain or Leave? Executive Summary

Potential impacts of the EU referendum on green building policies by UK Green Building Council, April 2016

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