I’m not really a believer in click campaigning, and certainly not if I’m being bulldozed into signing pledges for PR reasons by political opponents who are using scaremongering as an election platform tactic.
The latest pledge I am being asked to sign is on the environment. We are being told that secret plans are being drawn up by Tories to scrap EU environmental laws. Apparently we must fight this “tooth and nail” because it could mean “dirty seas, air and a massive loss of species, including endangered species.”
In one respect I can understand peoples’ concerns about what will occur in the future but that is a by-product of Brexit and it would equally relate to whole areas of government and policies. Greener UK is a valid group of 13 major environmental organisations, with a combined public membership of 7.9 million and I share with them the belief that leaving the EU is a pivotal moment to restore and enhance the UK’s environment.
But the existing plan is not, as scarily suggested by some individuals, to lay waste to EU regulations. In fact, the Great Repeal Bill includes this paragraph: “In order to provide legal certainty over our withdrawal, the Great Repeal Bill will remove the European Communities Act 1972 from the statute book and convert all EU law into UK law. This will mean the immediate conversion of EU law into domestic law on the day of the UK's departure from the EU, including on food, farming and environmental standards. Parliament will then be free to keep, amend or repeal any law as it sees fit.”
Specific details therefore on future policy will be published in an environment consultation in which everyone can take part.
The general direction is not, I stress NOT, to harm our environment. The Tories have a long history of legislating to protect our countryside which they consider some of the most beautiful in the world. In fact, safeguarding our vibrant natural environment should not even be party political, or even part of someone’s campaign platform; it should be a matter for all and particularly those of us who are blessed to live and work in it.
So until we leave the European Union, the existing arrangements remain in place. I am particularly pleased that the Treasury has confirmed that any structural fund projects, including agri-environment schemes, signed before our departure from the EU will be honoured for their lifetime even if they run beyond this point.
Since the vote to leave, Ministers have been working closely with environmental organisations and the public to develop new policies. But there are advantages too! Leaving the EU means we can tailor them to the needs of our precious habitats and wildlife, instead of following a one size fits all approach for 28 different countries. I know for a fact that Ministers are absolutely committed to seizing this opportunity as they work on an ambitious 25 Year Plan for the environment.
It is of course the predisposition of left leaning agitators to attack everything the Tories do. But for my part, I am proud of the Conservatives’ record in creating and improving habitats, and I welcome the commitment to plant 11 million more trees by 2020. Tackling air quality is another of their immediate priorities alongside national action and continued investment in cleaner technologies. In those cities with the most persistent air quality challenges Ministers will legislate to implement Clean Air Zones.
The UK will continue to play a leading role in combating climate change, as we did at the Paris Conference. Britain’s share of electricity generated from renewables has doubled since 2009 and Ministers are determined to ensure we become a world leader in the new green economy.
All in all I support, and share, this present Conservative Government’s overriding goal to ensure that we are the first generation to leave our environment in a better state than we found it.
I am as keen on protecting the environment as any other candidate and I will continue to work to save and protect it in Parliament if I am elected again.