Governance - Our most special local wildlife sites: The New Forest, The Solent, the Rivers Itchen and Avon and Thames Basin Heaths are all given protection by European legislation. Indeed we have way over the national average of land in this category. So when we leave the EU we need a strong domestic body of law to give them as good or better protections if they are to be at the heart of securing nature’s recovery. But laws need teeth and the European Court of Justice had big ones! So the conservation bodies have been fighting for an effective regulator and the Bill sets out a plan for an Office for Environmental Protection which we welcome. We need to ask our MP’s to make sure this is properly resourced, governed and independent.
Furthermore Government as a whole needs to own the full scope of the Bill’s content which the public are rallying behind like never before: Treasury, Housing, Business, Health departments all need to get behind the Environmental Principles set out in the Bill and work in the same direction. In our area this means a realistic and perhaps radical overhaul of how we view our land and natural resources, especially our approach to housing, economy and agriculture as well as water, fisheries and recreation. Holding this all together will be Environmental Improvement Plans which could be an effective way of providing accountability and scrutiny. We need to push for these plans to be at a meaningful scale so that we can challenge centralised targets such as impossible volumes of house building locally.