Environmental groups have warned the UK Government not to water down its climate change and environmental commitments during Brexit negotiations with the European Union (EU).

In a letter to Prime Minister Theresa May, the signatories accused the UK Government of “dragging its feet” on the publication of its clean growth plan, its 25-year environment plan and a water bill for England.

The letter said that “recently photographed documents appeared to show that the UK Government could scale back some of its international work on climate change and the illegal wildlife trade to clear the way for post-Brexit trade deals”.

Tanya Steele, Chief Executive at environmental charity WWF, said: “Our environment must not be sacrificed during the Brexit negotiations.

“The UK Government must deliver on its promises and leave the environment in a better state for future generations rather than trading away protections for our nature and climate.”

500,000 jobs by 2030

Lord Adair Turner, former Chairman of the CBI and now an ambassador for environmental charity WWF, added: “China’s increasingly strong commitment to limit and then reduce its emissions and Germany’s ability to combine stunning export success with rapid growth of renewables demonstrate the absurdity of the claim that building a low-carbon economy threatens competitiveness.

“In fact, the UK has managed to cut its emissions by a third since 1990 and grown its economy by over two thirds in the same period.

“UK businesses could save £23 billion a year by turning to more resource efficient measures, and renewables technology could create half a million jobs by 2030.”

The letter was signed by 11 groups including Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace and WWF, as well as environmental campaigners such as Deborah Meaden, Andy Murray and Lord Stuart Rose.

> Read the letter