Pre-Referendum Content

The Sussex Wildlife Trust has a clear duty, set out in our legal constitution to ‘…conserve the Sussex land, seascape, its wildlife and habitats [and] … protect ... from ill treatment, degradation or destruction and to improve [the] quality…” of “… sites areas and habitats of botanical zoological and geological or other scientific interest …”[1]

In practice this translates into an agreement – supported by all 47 Wildlife Trusts, and which unites us in common cause – to ‘stand up for wildlife’.

The fast approaching UK referendum on membership of the European Union is not a ‘party political issue’. However, as the UK’s membership of the EU will be decided by the UK government, based on the results of a ballot on June 23rd, it is clearly a ‘political’ issue.

As a charity, the Sussex Wildlife Trust is politically neutral and we will never advise Sussex voters to support any political party or political campaign. However we consider it is a vital part of our duty to make available any evidence which we believe to be important in any decision making. In particular, our legal remit makes clear provision for the Trust to “… disseminate the results of any … research in order to raise public awareness and to influence and change public attitudes”[2] in relation to wildlife.

What the Sussex Wildlife Trust is doing:

  • Pursuing our charitable aims by presenting information about the impact of the EU on the environment and wildlife in line with Charity Commission guidance
  • Championing the cause of wildlife as we promise our members we will do and as our trustees have a duty to do
  • Fully respecting that people will be voting as individuals and considering a wide range of issues as they do so and commenting only on those aspects of EU membership that relate to our charitable aims i.e. those that affect wildlife and the environment

What the Sussex Wildlife Trust is not doing:

  • Is not being “party political”. The Sussex Wildlife Trust has a broad membership with a variety of political views, the focus is totally on our charitable objectives
  • Is not formally affiliated to, or funding, either the “in” or “out” campaigns
  • Is not, and will not, be telling people how to vote
  • Is not basing our position on operational financial concerns

More on the EU and Wildlife

Sussex Wildlife Trust belongs to the umbrella organisation 'The Wildlife Trusts' [3] whose views are based on a full report jointly commissioned by The Wildlife Trusts, RSPB and WWF-UK from leading environmental experts - Baldock et al. (2016) The EU, the environment and potential consequences of a UK departure from the Union. An Institute for European Environmental Policy Report.

You can read The Wildlife Trusts full statement on their website.


[1] Sussex Wildlife Trust Articles of Association, 3 (i) & (ii), as amended 2014

[2] Sussex Wildlife Trust Articles of Association, 4.1.3

[3] ‘The Wildlife Trusts’ is the national NGO formed from the 47 independent local Wildlife Trusts and the Royal Society of Wildlife Trusts (see http://www.wildlifetrusts.org/whoweare), representing their collective interests.