The Environment Bill – Impact of New Leadership at DEFRA

Many environmentalists are dismayed that Michael Gove is no longer our Secretary of State for the Environment. I share their concern. Although sceptical when he was appointed, he has turned out to be an energetic advocate for green policies. His successor, Theresa Villiers, has a mixed voting record on environmental issues, and, in particular, does not appear to support setting targets for environmental and climate change targets.

However, before his departure last week, Michael Gove made an important speech listing the proposals to be included in the Environment Bill and made the statement “our party has collectively agreed (the Environment Bill) should be the flagship measure of the next Queen’s speech”. The Bill contains a long list of proposals covering planning, water and air pollution, waste, nature’s recovery and an aspiration for the UK to be a global leader on environmental issues. It is an interesting read.

My own particular area of focus is bio-diversity and nature’s recovery, but others will have different areas of interest. I intend to visit my MP to voice my support for the measures proposed by Michael Gove and to keep my eye on developments in an attempt to hold the government’s feet to the fire so that the proposals are not watered down. If you’ve never met or written to your MP, don’t be put off. There are some good hints and tips on the RSPB’s website under their Campaigning Section.

This is an opportunity for all like-minded people to lobby their MP to retain or even strengthen the proposals. A change of minister cannot be allowed to stand in the way of these essential reforms, which will be followed by equally important post-Brexit legislation on agriculture and fisheries. I hope you will join me in continuing to make our voices heard.