Our uplands are important to combat the climate emergency, preserve biodiversity and an important part of our quality of life.
The UK has experienced some of the highest biodiversity loss in the world – birds continue to decline and the State of Nature Report 2019 pointed out that the biggest threat to biodiversity in the UK is industrialised agriculture.
I believe that decisions that affect the natural environment should be transparent, accountable to local people and taken in the interests of the environment. I voted for an amendment to the Environment Bill at Report Stage (26 May) to require public authorities to act in accordance with Local Nature Recovery Strategies. This amendment was opposed by the Government and unfortunately fell.
The killing of wildlife poses another threat to biodiversity in the uplands, according to campaigners “there is widespread illegal killing on British grouse moors”, despite the species being listed on Annex 1 of the EC Birds Directive.
I was elected on a manifesto that promised to implement a “Plan for Nature” which would “set legally binding targets to drive the restoration of species and habitats”. The manifesto also promised to embark on an ambitious programme of tree planting, fully fund the Environment Agency, improve upstream river management, create new National Parks and protected areas, join up habitats and establish a new environmental tribunal to ensure administrative decisions are consistent with environmental obligations.
I see preserving and restoring our uplands as part of an ambitious response to counter the environmental crisis we are facing. We need a Green New Deal delivering ecological restoration to increase biodiversity, a ban on fracking, net zero carbon emissions by 2030, and a just transition from fossil fuels towards a publicly owned green energy sector.
I continue to argue, both inside and outside Parliament, for policies to ensure our uplands are protected, their biodiversity is preserved, and that they are accessible for the public good.