October 2018: Your Local MP
Protecting our environment
As the MP for our own rural community, and having lived in South Gloucestershire all my life, protecting our environment and wildlife has always been a matter close to my heart. I’ve therefore been delighted that, in recent months, the Government have made this an absolute priority.
In January, the Prime Minister unveiled the UK’s first 25-year Environment Plan to establish what can be done now, to substantially improve our environment. The most notable change has been the introduction of the 5p charge for single-use plastic bags, and evidence indicates that this has seen an 86% fall in the numbers being used. Plans are also being considered to reduce sales of plastic straws and coffee cups.
Furthermore, the Environment Secretary, Michael Gove, has publicly announced plans to introduce a Plastic Bottle Deposit Return scheme, and in June, the Government’s world-leading ban on the use of ‘mircrobeads’ - the tiny pieces of plastic added to products such as face scrubs, soaps, toothpaste and shower gels - came into force. These tiny toxic pieces of plastic pass in to our seas through our plug holes every day, yet are deadly to marine life across the world.
But the Department for Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs’ scope is not limited to the welfare of sea creatures. Plans are in place to introduce an Animal Welfare Bill in Parliament, which will extend the maximum prison sentence for animal cruelty, from six-months to five-years. Additionally, new legislation is being introduced to make CCTV cameras in all abattoirs across the UK mandatory, and a ban on the export of live animals for slaughter will be brought in once we have left the European Union.
One of the animal welfare issues which I have taken the most active involvement in, is with efforts to ban the domestic trade of illegal ivory. Under new proposals the UK will enforce some of the strictest regulations anywhere in the world. Closer to home, Michael Gove has declared his support for further restrictions on the use of certain pesticides, which are hugely damaging to the populations of bees in Britain.
Efforts to protect our environment, and the animals living within it, are at the forefront of domestic Government thinking, across a huge range of policy areas. For too long environmental policy has failed to receive the attention it desperately deserves, and I look forward to following future developments.