Give wildlife a voice this General Election

Give Wildlife a Voice for a Wilder Future in the General Election

Give Wildlife a Voice for a Wilder Future in the General Election

The upcoming General Election is a crucial moment for wildlife in the UK

Our natural environment is in crisis – the UK is one of the most nature-depleted places on earth and over half of our wildlife species are in decline.

Our politicians need to stand for nature’s recovery.  

We are utterly dependent on nature for our wellbeing and prosperity, and Nature-Based Solutions can provide over one-third of the most cost-effective, long-term and globally scalable climate mitigation needed between now and 2030 to stabilise warming to below 2 °C.  Therefore it is vital that the next government enacts the kinds of ambitious measures that will guarantee wildlife’s recovery. There is evidently widespread support among the public for such decisive action.

In a recent YouGov poll, 27% of voters cited the environment as one of three top issues - behind Brexit and health. That puts it on a par with crime and the economy. 45% of 18- to 24-year-olds put it as their second-biggest concern after Brexit.

We’ll be challenging the parliamentary candidates in Wales about the actions they will take for a Wilder Future.

We have written to all the candidates that have provided contact details and asked them the following questions:

1.       How will you and your party act decisively to tackle the crises in the natural environment?

2.       What will you do to ensure we have farming policies that support land managers in contributing to nature’s recovery?

3.       What will you do to ensure we protect and revive our seas?

4.       With funding for the natural environment and conservation declining dramatically in the last 10 years, despite the climate and ecological emergencies, what will you do to reverse this trend?

Over the coming weeks, election candidates will be going door to door and talking to you about what they stand for.  They need your vote, so you might also like to use these questions to let them know how much you care about wildlife and show them that nature matters to us all.

We received the following responses to the above questions:

Madeleine Moon MP, Welsh Labour, Bridgend

“It’s always difficult for Welsh MP's to respond to your questions since many of the decisions are made in Cardiff not in Westminster. The new EVEL (English Votes for English Legislation) rules mean we also don't have votes in English legislation though of course Wales does benefit from the Barnett Formulae funding implications of spend in England.
To cut to the chase yes I will support improved funding, the failure to take real action on Maritime Conservation and establishing maritime reserves is shocking.
I am not a member of the Environment Food and Rural Affairs or the Environmental Audit Select Committee but I know they are both focussed on farming and land management policies.  There is considerable concern as to the implications of lower environmental protection policies should there be a hard Brexit. This will be an area we must all keep our focus on.”

Tonia Antoniazzi MP, Welsh Labour, Gower

“As you'll have seen from our manifesto released today as well as our animal welfare manifesto available here that the Labour Party has a series of policy solutions to tackle the issues raised in your email.”

Rhys Taylor, Welsh Liberal Democrats, Cardiff North

  1. How will you and your party act decisively to tackle the crises in the natural environment?

The Liberal Democrats have a credible and detailed plan to tackle the climate emergency as soon as possible, to transform our government to place the environment at its heart and to reverse the damage we’re doing to our planet. We will also set targets for the recovery of our natural environment – tackling the climate emergency goes hand in hand with nature recovery.    A Liberal Democrat government will pass a new Nature Act modelled on the Climate Change Act to see binding targets and interim targets for nature’s recovery.
Nature recovery and tackling climate change go hand in hand so we will also set a new legally binding target to reduce net greenhouse gas emissions to zero by 2045 at the latest, and implement a comprehensive climate action plan, cutting emissions across all sectors.
By stopping Brexit, we can build a brighter future for our natural environment across the EU – a Liberal Democrat government will work with the EU to set binding targets to help nature recover and achieve net-zero emissions across 28 countries.

2. What will you do to ensure we have farming policies that support land managers in contributing to nature’s recovery?

The Liberal Democrats will support the shift towards a greener agriculture by funding streams of at least £18bn over five years, or £3.6bn each year. This would allocate about £400,000 more to the UK agricultural industry each year than the current CAP-funded pot under the current government (£3.2bn/year).
This would involve effective land management, including restoring nature and protecting the countryside, flood prevention, and measures to increase soil carbon and expand native woodland to combat climate change.
Other measures include: a £5bn fund for flood prevention, the planting of 60 million trees a year by 2025, investment in workable vaccines to control bovine TB, higher animal welfare standards and a budget increase for Defra and its agencies.
In addition, the Lib Dems would reduce support payments for larger farmers and redistribute the savings to support public goods projects.

3. What will you do to ensure we protect and revive our seas?

Commit to a Plastic-Free Charter to eradicate unnecessary plastic waste from Government Departments and set an example to businesses and consumers.
Tackle our throw-away culture by providing incentives for reuse and recycling, including a plastic bottle return scheme and a 5p charge on disposable coffee cups.
Encourage businesses to reduce plastic packaging and introduce plastic free aisles in supermarkets.
Work closely with other countries to find global solutions to tackle the crisis of ocean pollution.
Invest in research and development into non-plastic alternative materials which are cost effective and sustainable in the long-term.

4. With funding for the natural environment and conservation declining dramatically in the last 10 years, despite the climate and ecological emergencies, what will you do to reverse this trend?

A Liberal Democrat government would spend £100bn tackling the effects of climate change and protecting the environment. This would include a new £10bn "renewable power fund" to leverage more than £100bn of extra private climate investment. Other priorities include insulating all of Britain's homes by 2030, having at least 80% of UK electricity generated from renewables by 2030, banning fracking for good, planting 60 million trees a year, electrifying Britain's railways and ensuring all new cars are electric by 2030.”

Robert Morgan, The Brexit Party, Bridgend Candidate

“Firstly, thank you for the amazing work you and all your supporters do. Our wildlife is so important.  The answers to your questions are as follows:

1. We are fighting for our country and the future of our country, there are serious things that we need to do and in some ways lead the way and be an example to other countries. We want to invest in the environment, in addition to planting millions of trees throughout Wales and the UK we will promote a global initiative at the UN.
2. Farming in Wales is a huge industry and a huge source of our natural wildlife. Farming receives funding from the EU, the money that we give them. By leaving the EU saving billions a month, we will have more resource to provide to farmers. The EU not only gives us approx a third of the money we pay in, but also tells us where to spend it and when. We want to invest what we want when we want in our vital farming industry, thus negating the need for farmers to sell land for development.
3. This is what is very high on our agenda, we want to recycle our own waste and make it illegal for it to be exported across the world to be dumped at sea. We will take back the control of our fishing waters, lessening the amount of trawlers in our waters from France in particular.
4. Taking back the control of our spending we will have the ability to invest in our natural environment and conservation as and when it is needed. It is needed now! We want better living for us and our wildlife. With all the things we are pledging in our 'Contract with the people' we can protect what is dear to us, with our land and wellbeing for us and our wildlife being high priority.
I sincerely hope that you find these answers favourable Sarah, these can all be found in our Contract which was launched yesterday.”

Michael O’Carroll, Welsh Liberal Democrats, Swansea West

1. How will you and your party act decisively to tackle the crises in the natural environment?

With regards climate mitigation to stabilize warming, myself and the Liberal Democrats would:
- accelerate the deployment of renewable power, to reach 80% renewable energy generation by 2030
- reduce emissions from buildings by redtrofitting insulation in all low-income households by 2025, and by requiring all new homes and properties built from 2021 to meet a zero carbo standard
- roll-out infrastructure to support electric vehicles, culminating in a ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel cars and vans from 2030 onwards
- use the UK's global reach to achieve positive change globally, including requiring all companies listed on the UK stock exchange to set targets consistent with the Paris Climate Agreement; and working with EU partners to keep cloimate change at the top of the global agenda
More broadly, we would introduce a new Nature Act to restore the natural environment through setting legally binding near-term and long-term targets for improving water, air, soil and biodiversity, and supported by funding streams of at least £18 billion over five years

2. What will you do to ensure we have farming policies that support land managers in contributing to nature’s recovery?

I support the Liberal Democrats policies to:
- Reduce basic agricultural support payments to the larger recipients and redeploy the savings to support the public goods that come from effective land management, including restoring nature and protecting the countryside, preventing flooding and combating climate change through measures to increase soil carbon and expand native woodland.
- Invest in large scale restoration of peatlands, heathland, native woodlands, saltmarshes, wetlands and coastal waters, helping to absorb carbon, protect against floods, improve water quality and protect habitats, including through piloting ‘rewilding’ approaches.

3.  What will you do to ensure we protect and revive our seas?

I would:
- Ensure that sustainability lies at the heart of fisheries policy, rebuilding depleted fish stocks to achieve their former abundance. Fishers, scientists and conservationists should all be at the centre of a decentralised and regionalised fisheries management system. Immigration policy should also be flexible enough to ensure that both the catching and processing sectors have access to the labour they need.
- Establish a "blue belt" of marine protected areas covering at least 50 per cent of UK waters by 2030
- Ban non-recyclable single used plastics

4. With funding for the natural environment and conservation declining dramatically in the last 10 years, despite the climate and ecological emergencies, what will you do to reverse this trend?

In terms of funding, we would commit:
- an additional £18bn over 5 years to support the aims of our new Nature Act
- a further £5bn fund for flood prevention and climate adaptation
- a total investment spend (i.e. not current account) of £80bn through a revived Green Investment Bank, to support projects to tackle climate change.”

John Davies, Plaid Cymru, Gower

“I have created a wild meadow myself, of about 4 acres on land that we have, specifically to increase the bio diversity, and create a safe zone in north Gower for wildlife.
I can not comment at present on policy as the Manifesto will not be announced till Friday, but I can assure you that we will continue to be green. I was at a meeting the night before last in Swansea run by various groups of green activists, and it was good to have confirmation from Friends of the Earth that we are regarded as greener than the greens.”

Wayne David, Labour Candidate for Caerphilly
Thank you for your email enquiring my views about the environment. I believe that the environmental challenges of today are of a different order to those faced in the past and require a more comprehensive package of measures.
 Just before Parliament was dissoloved for the general election, the UK Government published its Environment Bill which proposed a wide range of new duties and legal requirements for England.  These included providing for environmental targets, environmental principles and a new environmental watchdog. If it had been brought into law, there would have been new legal requirements covering air pollution, water resources, water management and quality, waste and recycling, biodiversity, nature recovery and conservation covenants.
While I welcomed these proposals, I believe the Bill was a missed opportunity. For example, it did not go far enough in bringing in measures to help reduce water consumption in England in the face of the climate emergency. I would have liked to have seen the Bill amended to ensure that after Brexit the UK won’t fall behind the EU on environmental standards. I fear that the Conservatives are threatening our environment with reckless new trade agreements after we leave the EU that would undercut Britain’s environmental standards. I do not believe that the measures contained in their proposed Environment Bill would have done anything to  protect against this.
I was also concerned about the independence of the Office for Environmental Protection (OEP) proposed in the Bill. The only reason the Conservatives at Westminster made any movement on waste, landfill and air quality was because of the threat of EU fines. With that in mind, I found it disappointing that the OEP would have had no powers to issue fines. Also, while it was welcome that the OEP would be able to carry out investigations on its own initiative, I would have like to have seen it given the power to conduct inquiries into systemic issues, make recommendations and issue guidance.
The measures contained in the Bill were mainly for England only because, as a result of devolution, environmental matters in Wales are largely the responsibility of the Welsh Government.
The Welsh Government recently held a consultation, Environmental Principles and Governance in Wales Post European Union Exit. It asked for views on what will provide the most effective and coherent approach to improving environmental governance in Wales, including if improvements could be made to the existing structures or whether a specific oversight body is required. I will follow the outcome of this consultation closely.
Wales has a Nature Recovery Plan for 2020 and beyond, aimed at addressing the underlying causes of biodiversity loss. The plan has a number of objectives, including to increase the resilience of our natural environment by restoring degraded habitats and habitat creation.
I welcome the fact that Welsh Labour Ministers have made a commitment to ensuring there is no drop in environmental standards in Wales and that they will continue to improve environmental regulation as the UK leaves the European Union.
Can I suggest that it would be advisable for your members in South and West Wales to contact  their local Assembly Member for an update on what action the Welsh Government is taking to protect the natural environment in Wales? For your members living in the Caerphilly constituency they can contact the AM for Caerphilly by emailing Hefin.David@assembly.wales
For your members living in the Caerphilly constituency, I can assure them that I will continue to work in Parliament to press the UK Government, whichever party it is, to do more to tackle climate change and improve the environment.

Help us secure a #WilderFuture for wildlife.