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Next Prime Minster must not lose sight of environmental challenges and commitments



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Political is a word defined by the Oxford dictionary as ‘relating to the government or the public affairs of a country’.

Having spent my entire career in the environmental charity sector and much of it engaging with politicians and political, I am acutely aware of the need to ensure no party bias creeps into our communications.

But, there is no escaping the fact that the very nature of what we do at Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust, working to protect and enhance Nottinghamshire’s natural environment for the benefit of all — and the challenges we face in achieving this are inherently political.

Fears over energy security make it even more important that Government forges ahead with the switch to renewables. Photo: Neil France
Fears over energy security make it even more important that Government forges ahead with the switch to renewables. Photo: Neil France

Whenever general or local elections are taking place we are extremely careful to ensure there is no hint of party political bias in our materials and we make an effort to engage with all main party candidates to highlight the policies and investments we feel are required to tackle the ecological and climate crises and put nature in to recovery.

However, when one party has been in power for a considerable length of time, there is inevitably a risk that some people might choose to view criticism of government decisions or direction as criticism of the governing party rather than the government.

This makes it even more important to ensure we are focusing criticism on policy decisions not party ethos.

Many much loved species need access to more habitat if we are to put nature into recovery. Photo: Phil Rheid (58108631)
Many much loved species need access to more habitat if we are to put nature into recovery. Photo: Phil Rheid (58108631)

Whilst few of us will have a direct vote in the process that will ultimately lead to the selection of our next Prime Minister, there are things we can do to ensure that environment issues don’t get completely lost in the scramble for headlines and votes.

Here at Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust, we have contacted all Conservative MPs to highlight the party’s publicly stated ambitious commitments on environmental issues. We will also be asking them to do what they can to ensure the next leader of the party and, more importantly, county delivers on these pledges.

Farmers need encourgaement and financial support from government to farm in nature friendly ways. (58108612)
Farmers need encourgaement and financial support from government to farm in nature friendly ways. (58108612)

Whilst the candidates have so far chosen to focus on issues such as Brexit, and tax policy, they mustn’t be allowed to forget that nature is in crisis. Another term bandied about recently in relation to who should lead the nation is mandate.

Candidates would therefore do well to note the pledges on the environment made in their own party’s 2019 manifesto — with the aim of developing the most ambitious environmental programme of any country on earth.

Issues such as habitat loss, climate change and pollution mean pollinators such as bees need urgent action from government. Photo: Jon Hawkins
Issues such as habitat loss, climate change and pollution mean pollinators such as bees need urgent action from government. Photo: Jon Hawkins

It was good to see that four of the five candidates remaining ahead of a recent hustings hosted by the Conservative Environment Network has signed the groups’ environmental pledge — but with the climate and nature in crisis, we will need to see urgent action from whoever succeeds in their bid to be our next PM.

It was interesting to see that the outgoing Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, chose to highlight the need to deliver the UK’s commitment to Net Zero carbon in his final cabinet meeting.

Hopefully, it was the record-breaking temperatures that promoted him to highlight the issue rather than a sense that not all potential successors share his ambition.

We have asked Conservative MPs across Nottinghamshire to ensure the new leadership of the party tackles the issues of nature loss and climate change head on.

Whoever is chosen as the new leader will take up office at a critical moment in the global fight to halt environmental decline.

The public support bold action to tackle the climate and ecological crises. Photo: Hattie Lavender (58108632)
The public support bold action to tackle the climate and ecological crises. Photo: Hattie Lavender (58108632)

The polling, which many politicians set such stall by, consistently shows that the public support ambitious environmental action and there is huge potential for the UK to play a pivotal role.

The commitments in their manifesto to lead the global fight against climate change — with pledges to deliver Net Zero by 2050 and a system based on ‘public money for public goods’ to support farmers to restore our environment are vital if we are to safeguard the security and prosperity of future generations.

Once common wildlife species are now on the brink of extinction and pollution continues to affect our land, rivers and seas as well as the air we breathe — at great cost to our economy, health and communities.

Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust. (2682719)
Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust. (2682719)

Despite the terrible conflict in Ukraine and the deepening cost-of living crisis, the need for bold action on climate is greater than ever.

The prospect of global instability, food insecurity and damage to our future economic will be even worse if carbon reduction and nature recovery are not prioritised.

On behalf of our members, we’ve reminded the county’s Conservative MPs of their nature and climate pledges — if you are represented by one of these MPs I’d urge you to do the same — Erin McDaid, Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust



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