Wednesday, 1 April 2015

And so it begins...

The election is now well and truly underway and so far nothing environmental has been mentioned and sadly I doubt it will.

For the last two elections I have challenged my local candidates to come out and state their case and this election is no different. The emails went off this week and now I am just waiting for replies. The letter I sent was:

Dear Candidate
I write to you in this lead up to the General Election to urge you to consider the environment during your campaign. Environmental issues often play second fiddle to wider policies especially in times of economic uncertainty. In February I surveyed the websites of all main parties and found an appalling lack of information on this matter.
As a prospective candidate for Member of Parliament I would like you to answer 2 questions,
1.      How will your party improve the environment in the national and international arena?
2.      What are your specific environmental concerns/policy for the constituency?
In answer to these questions I want you and your party’s views, do not use it to have a bash at the other parties or what others have done wrong. It would be nice to have a positive approach to campaigning.
If you’re struggling for inspiration here are my top ten ideas:
  1. Ensure that 80% of SSSI's are in favourable or better condition by 2020
  2. Reduce bTB using scientific advice involving the deployment of vaccines and bio security rather than culling.
  3. To reduce the risk of flooding invest in the reforestation of headwaters and on unprofitable/nonviable farmland beside rivers create wetlands and reed beds to soak up excess water.
  4. Ideally scrap HS2 and if not to ensure that a wildlife corridor at least as wide is created along its length.
  5. Seriously examine the reintroduction of certain species such a Lynx and Beaver to act as ecosystem engineers in re wilding projects.
  6. Designate all of the 127 marine conservation zones that were proposed.
  7. Ensure biodiversity offsetting does not just become 'greenwash'. Regulate to ensure replacements are like for like and that they are protected from further development.
  8. Develop a new designation of No-build Zones to stop urban sprawl and the conglomeration of towns and villages.
  9. Untie the hands of English Nature, SNH and CCW and Environment Agency to do their job more independently of central government.
  10. Lastly and most importantly listen to the scientific advice given by the NGO's and government bodies consulted.
Thank you for your time and I hope your responses will help me to decide which party to vote for.

Yours Sincerely
Feel free to use this as a template to challenge your own candidates.


If like me your undecided then take a moment to consider the environmental factors. Aprils issue of the BBC Wildlife Magazine has an excellent feature on what the parties plan for British Wildlife. I have analysed this information and drawn it up into a table showing what I think this means.


Conservatives
Green Party
Labour
Liberals
UKIP
Tackling bovine TB
Culling focused with cattle movement restriction and vaccine development.
Stop culling. Use vaccination, cattle testing and cattle movement restrictions.
Stop culling. Use vaccination, cattle testing and cattle movement restrictions.
Allow culls to continue alongside vaccine development.
Doesn’t explicitly state a continuance of culling but does call for vaccination around edge zones.
Controlling Development
No new efforts described just reference to the National Planning Policy Framework.
Opposition to developments damaging Habitats Directive and Ramsar sites.
Against Biodiversity Offsetting
More control to local communities but nothing specific on safeguarding wildlife
Proposition of new Nature Act to halt biodiversity declines and impose duty on local authority.
Defend Green Belt and AONB and greater prioritisation of brown field sites.
Neonicotinoid ban
Support
Support
Support
Want to examine science
Only ban after definitive scientific proof
Farming Incentives
£3billion investment in agri-environmental schemes.
Support subsidies  to promote biodiversity and soil health
No definitive policy.
No definitive policy
Introduction of new Single Payment Farm system based on ELS.
Marine Protection
No policy statement just description of what they have done.
Increase Sea Reserves to 30% and end over fishing by 2018 and enforce a deep sea trawling ban.
No policy statement just complaining of government only creating 27 MCZ’s.
Proposition of marine protection in the proposed Nature Act.
Leave the EU to run our own fish stocks outside of the Common Fisheries Policy.
Hunting Ban
Free vote on repealing the Hunting Act 2004
Extension of the 1911 Protection of Animals Act to include shooting and coursing.
No policy on improving the legislation or expanding it but against a repealing of the act.
No policy.
No policy.
Reintroduction of species
No policy, willing to allow Natural England to manage it.
Support
No policy.
No policy.
Against reintroduction programmes.
Raptor Persecution
No policy but against it.
Policy for every rural police force to have a Wildlife and Animal Crimes Unit.
No policy.
No policy but highlights
current action.
No policy other than enforcing existing laws.

Obviously the Green Party have the best policies. Surprisingly UKIP have some good ideas followed by the Liberals. The Conservatives and Labour Party seem to be level pegging, although the refusal to stop the Badger Cull and the free vote on the Hunting Act. The most exciting thing on the whole list to me is the Liberals proposal for a Nature Act. It has been awhile since we have had major nature conservation legislation and this promises to be interesting. Obviously the act needs to have a solid framework and actually have solid laws but its the most promisingics  piece of politics I have heard for a long time.