General Election 2019

Nature urgently needs our help to recover

This election, candidates will be canvassing throughout Cumbria. 

Ask them to stand up for nature!

Our natural environment is in trouble. We're facing a climate and ecological emergency. Wildlife is in serious decline, constrained to shrinking, isolated pockets, and the UK has become one of the most nature depleted nations in the world. It doesn't have to be this way.

It is vital that the next government enacts the kinds of ambitious measures that will guarantee wildlife’s recovery. 

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Time to Act

We are asking all prospective parliamentary candidates in Cumbria some questions about what they plan to do for wildlife, if  elected.

We will publish their responses on this webpage so that voters can compare and contrast what different candidates/parties have to offer for wildlife and the environment.

Here are our questions to candidates:

  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 delivering nature’s recovery?
  3. What will you do to ensure we protect and revive our seas and marine environment?

Use your voice - working together we can make a difference

Election candidates will be going door to door, talking to you about what they stand for. If you want to find out what your candidate will do for nature you can use the above questions and there are more suggestions here.

Now is the time to put pressure on our politicians to turn things around, to start nature's recovery on land and at sea; to start to build a greener, healthier, wilder future. 

Responses from candidates

Tim Farron, Liberal Democrats Party Political Candidate for Westmorland and Lonsdale

A healthy natural environment, where people breathe clean air, drink clean water and enjoy the beauty of the natural world, lies at the heart of the society and the economy Liberal Democrats want to create. Yet nature is under threat: unsustainable farming practices are depleting the soil and, together with air and water pollution, contributing to a rapid decline in the numbers of insects, birds and other animals.  One in seven UK species are at risk of extinction.  We will: -

  • Protect the natural environment and reverse biodiversity loss at the same time as combating climate change.  
  • Support farmers to protect and restore the natural environment alongside their critical roles in producing food, providing employment and promoting tourism, leisure and health and wellbeing. 
  • Introduce a 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.
  • Combat climate change, and benefit nature and people by coordinating the planting of 60 million trees a year and introducing requirements for the greater use of sustainably harvested wood in construction.
  • Invest in large scale restoration of peatlands, heathland, native woodlands, saltmarshes, wetlands and coastal waters, helping to absorb carbon, to protect against floods, to improve water quality and to protect habitats, including through 45 piloting ‘rewilding’ approaches.
  • 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.
  • Introduce a National Food Strategy, including the use of public procurement policy, to promote the production and consumption of healthy, sustainable and affordable food and cut down on food waste.
  • Support producers by broadening the remit of the Groceries Code Adjudicator and supporting them with access to markets.
  • Significantly increase the amount of accessible green space, including protecting up to a million acres, completing the coastal path, exploring a ‘right to roam’ for waterways and creating a new designation of National Nature Parks.
  • Give the Local Green Space designation the force of law.
  • Protect and restore England’s lakes, rivers and wetlands, including through reform of water management and higher water efficiency standards, and establish a ‘blue belt’ of marine protected areas covering at least 50 per cent of UK waters by 2030, in partnership with UK overseas territories.
  • Create a new ‘British Overseas Ecosystems Fund’ for large-scale environmental restoration projects in the UK Overseas Territories and sovereign bases, home to 94 per cent of our unique wildlife.
  • Establish a £5 billion fund for flood prevention and climate adaptation over the course of the Parliament to improve flood defences, and introduce high standards for flood resilience for buildings and infrastructure in flood risk areas.
  • 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.
  • Increase the budget for the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, ensuring that agencies such as Natural England and the Environment Agency are properly funded.

Simon Fell, Conservative Party Political Candidate for Barrow-in-Furness

We have one planet and it is our responsibility to protect it and leave it in a better condition than we inherited. Doing so will be our legacy for the next, and future, generations.

My party is committed to achieving Net Zero by 2050. Personally, I would like to see us move faster than this and I am hopeful that our plans to invest 2.4% of GDP into a new innovation fund (a larger contribution than currently goes to the defence budget) will help the UK develop new technologies which will achieve that goal. In concert with the £1billion Ayrton Fund, which is focussed entirely on developing affordable and accessible clean energy, it is my hope that we can lead the world in tackling climate change.

Innovation is only part of the answer of course - we must be rigorous in ensuring that we meet our own targets for decarbonisation and air quality. For this reason we have pledged that once we have left the EU will will set up an independent Office for Environmental Protection which will hold us to more stringent targets to those currently set by the EU.

We have also pledged to invest in nature - we plan to plan an additional 75,000 acres of trees each year, restore our peatland, and create a Great Northumberland Forest.

Protecting our national environment is also important - we have therefore planned to create new National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty across the UK. Spending any time in Barrow and Furness and it’s not hard to see where the next Foulney or South Walney nature reserve could be.

Thanks to the bold action of the last government, the UK already leads the world in tackling plastics pollution. We plan to go further - introducing a levy to increase the proportion of recyclable plastics in packaging and also increasing producer responsibility - making producers responsible for dealing wit the waste they produce. We will also ban the export of plastic waste to non-OECD countries.

Finally, we will crack down on the waste and carelessness that destroys our natural environment and kills marine life. You could expect a Conservative government to increase penalties for fly-tipping, make those on community sentences clean up parks and streets, and introduce a deposit return scheme to incentivise people to recycle plastic and glass.

On farming, it is our intention to remove bureaucracy and ensure that farmers are able to move to a post -CAP system which enables ‘public money for public good.’ This will essentially encourage farmers to farm in a way which protects and enhances our natural environment which safeguarding a high standard of animal welfare.

For both farming and fisheries, we have pledged to maintain the current level of funding throughout the duration of the next parliament.

Leaving the EU will allow us to become an independent coastal state once more and take back control of our waters - the key benefit to this being that we will set our own legal commitment to fish sustainably and have a requirement to achieve a maximum sustainable yield for each stock.

Our natural environment is a complex and interconnected organism. Addressing the crisis means not just tackling climate change through decarbonisation, but also through innovation. It also means moving to sustainable farming with less food miles and enabling and encouraging land managers to ensure nature’s recovery.

Achieving this will not be simple, but I care deeply about our natural environment and want my legacy, if elected on 12 December, to be one of environmental advocacy. We owe it to future generations to leave our planet in better shape than we found it.
 

Julia Aglionby, Liberal Democrats Party Political Candidate for Carlisle

1.    Saving Nature and the Countryside 
A healthy natural environment, where people breathe clean air, drink clean water and enjoy the beauty of the natural world, lies at the heart of the society and the economy Liberal Democrats want to create. Yet nature is under threat: unsustainable farming practices are depleting the soil and, together with air and water pollution, contributing to a rapid decline in the numbers of insects, birds and other animals. One in seven UK species are at risk of extinction. 
We will protect the natural environment and reverse biodiversity loss at the same time as combating climate change. We will support farmers to protect and restore the natural environment alongside their critical roles in producing food, providing employment and promoting tourism, leisure and health and wellbeing. We will: 

  • Introduce a 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. 
  • Combat climate change, and benefit nature and people by coordinating the planting of 60 million trees a year and introducing requirements for the greater use of sustainably harvested wood in construction. 
  • 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 
  • 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.
  • Introduce a National Food Strategy, including the use of public procurement policy, to promote the production and consumption of healthy, sustainable and affordable food and cut down on food waste. 
  • Support producers by broadening the remit of the Groceries Code Adjudicator and supporting them with access to markets. 
  • Significantly increase the amount of accessible green space, including protecting up to a million acres, completing the coastal path, exploring a ‘right to roam’ for waterways and creating a new designation of National Nature Parks. 
  • Give the Local Green Space designation the force of law. 
  • Protect and restore England’s lakes, rivers and wetlands, including through reform of water management and higher water efficiency standards, and establish a ‘blue belt’ of marine protected areas covering at least 50 per cent of UK waters by 2030, in partnership with UK overseas territories. 
  • Create a new ‘British Overseas Ecosystems Fund’ for large-scale environmental restoration projects in the UK Overseas Territories and sovereign bases, home to 94 per cent of our unique wildlife. 
  • Establish a £5 billion fund for flood prevention and climate adaptation over the course of the parliament to improve flood defences, and introduce high standards for flood resilience for buildings and infrastructure in flood risk areas. 
  • 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.
  • Increase the budget for the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, ensuring that agencies such as Natural England and the Environment Agency are properly funded. 

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

I am committed to the delivering of new schemes that pay farmers for the delivery of public benefits instead of simply occupying land as with the current system of BPS. I do this through running the Foundation for Common Land, Chairing the Uplands Alliance and  as a Professor at the University of Cumbria. I am actively involved in Defra’s test and trials and have recently submitted for a £3 million project to assist upland farmers manage common land better to increase outcomes for nature and other public benefits.

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

While on the Board of Natural England I was actively involved in improving outcomes in the marine environment such as the new Teesmouth SAC and SSI. If in Parliament I would continue to campaign for multi stakeholder solutions to our seas and marine environment

 

Trudy Harrison, Conservative Party Political Candidate for Copeland

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

I care deeply about the natural environment, as do the Conservatives, and we have already started to tackle such issues. Since coming into office in 2010, the Conservatives have reduced emissions by 25%. We have put clean growth at the heart of our economy, so we can achieve both a growing economy and a modern Industrial Strategy while at the same time ensuring Britain retains a leading role in efforts to tackle climate change. 400,000 people are already employed in the low-carbon sector and its supply chains across the country, helping make Britain a leading country in combating climate change. We also introduced a legally binding net zero target to end the UK's contribution to global warming entirely by 2050.

The Conservatives launched a 25 year Environment Plan to protect the world's bio-diverse forests; support sustainable agriculture and support zero de-forestation supply chains. We pledge to leave the environment in a better state than in which we found it, through measures such as cutting out all plastic waste. We will improve protection for our natural habitats through Local Nature Recovery Strategies and give communities a greater say in the protection of local trees.    This multi-faceted approach includes further reducing pollution - we now have the cleanest rivers in a generation. But there is a dearth of salmon and sea trout so we need to continue to look at sustainable solutions now and in the future. I have been working with the Keswick hatchery project to try and increase the numbers of salmon on the River Derwent and stock levels are being monitored by the Environment Agency. Salmon are spawning and fry are present in our rivers, so research is focusing on understanding why adult salmon are not returning to our rivers. If this is through predation or other factors then efforts will be targeted on such issues. The decline in species such as hares, red squirrels, partridge, yellow hammers and indeed many birds, is of huge concern to those who remember the sounds and sights of the countryside. Predation is as much of a concern for me as successive Government policy. The introduction of pine martins and otters are helping with the conservation of endangered species, which were once so common. I led a debate in Westminster Hall on the decline of red squirrels and called on the Government to support our local campaigners in their fight to help protect them. In Cumbria we are just about retaining our red squirrel stronghold thanks to the dedication of volunteer conservation groups like West Lakes Squirrel Initiative, who I am proud to support. The real challenge is how to tackle such loss without creating unintended consequences for landowners and other wildlife.  

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

In our area of abundant natural resources and outstanding national beauty, farming has shaped the landscape and we have benefited from an economy dependent on the countryside. It is therefore critical to develop sustainability, and support policy changes that benefit wildlife. For the first time in 40 years, by leaving the EU, we will have the opportunity to legislate our own farming and agricultural policy. This means we can use public money for UK farmers, rather than our money subsidising farms across the EU. Therefore, we can reward farmers with public money for responsible land use, environmentally friendly practices and increasing biodiversity. Responsible land use can always go along way to cut the causes of flooding. These principles formed the basis of the Agriculture Bill, which I scrutinised in detail on the Agriculture Bill Committee, with a focus on supporting farmers in transitioning away from the Common Agricultural Policy. Although the bill passed through committee, it fell at prorogation,  but we can expect to see it return in the new Parliament.    

I have met with farmers across the area - upland and lowland, sheep, beef and dairy - as well as the National Farmers' Union and The Countryside Alliance. The vast majority want to leave the EU and look forward to life out of the Common Agriculture Policy and we have been discussing their post-Brexit farming needs. There is no better industry for skills and experience to be passed down through generations, our farmers know their land best, they are the conservationists within our community and the industry must be supported for future generations. 

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

The Conservatives 25 Year Environment Plan will protect the marine environment by cutting plastic waste, which is at great harm to marine wildlife. After Brexit, we can also expect to see a new UK fisheries policy, to replace the Common Fisheries Policy. A new sustainable fisheries policy will again allow us to promote sustainable fishing, and encourage, better standards and practices to improve the marine environment. The fishermen who best demonstrate an ability to maintain, enhance and restore the marine/aquatic environment will be receive grants.  

I successfully lobbied for the introduction of more Marine Conservation Zones - areas designated with the aim to protect nationally important, rare or threatened habitats and species. And I support trawler and fishing free areas around the columns of wind turbines - to create marine preservation areas. The Government also held an independent review of Highly Protected Marine Areas (HPMAs) this year looking at introducing tougher measures to help stop the implications of human activity from damaging the marine environment. The review will recommend whether and how such areas could be introduced within inshore and off shore waters and - if supported by evidence - then potential pilot sites would be recommended.
 

 

 

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