09/03/2016 03:20 GMT | Updated 10/03/2017 05:12 GMT

Our Green and Pleasant Land Is at Stake If We Leave the EU

When it comes to matters of the environment our membership of the EU serves to protect ournational identity, not to undermine it.

Our green and pleasant land, the quality of the air we breathe and our native species, from blue tits to butterflies, are protected thanks to EU legislation - which by sitting at the top table the UK can shape and influence.

A report published today with the respected WWF, RSPB and the Wildlife Trusts makes a considered case for EU membership and finds that - on balance- we should vote to remain in a reformed European Union. To put it simply, we need to be part of the pack if we're going to have a say on the big, environmental matters.

As a former Environment Secretary I saw this first hand.

The fact is that nature does not respect natural boundaries - and neither do the threats faced by nature. By remaining in a reformed European Union, we are able protect our environment and natural habitats - while having a voice in how we do so.

The UK has played a leading role in setting climate change targets to keep our air clean and our environment safe. We have already agreed at EU level to cut greenhouse gas emissions by at least 40 per cent by 2030, while the European 2020 Strategy proposes that EU countries aim to produce 20 per cent of their energy consumption from renewable energy by 2020.

Meanwhile, the EU was at the forefront of the landmark global deal on climate change concluded at the Climate Change Summit in Paris just last year. And it was the EU which ultimately led to the great clean-up of British beaches.

Of course some might say that we can find a strange halfway house where we have one hand in the EU while the other doing whatever we like. Well it's not that simple. Look at Norway who are in the European Economic Area (EEA). In this scenario, we would no longer have any power to shape environmental legislation but we would be subject to it. Just last week the Norwegian Prime Minister herself admitted that Norway lacked influence in the important decisions.

To really protect our glorious British countryside which is integral to our national identity, influencing our literature and shaping our history and culture, we should stay in a reformed EU.

Caroline Spelman is the Conservative MP for Meriden, a former environment secretary, and patron for Conservatives In