On Wednesday 26 May, Sir David Amess spoke at the debate on the Environment Bill and called on the Government to urgently protect the environment and wildlife. As a patron of the Conservative Animal Welfare Foundation, Sir David often pushes for legislative changes to improve animal welfare and climate change.
Sir David Amess said:
I am delighted we have reached the Report stage of this landmark Environment Bill, which examines our vital relationship with nature and how that affects wildlife generally. The Treasury-sponsored Dasgupta review on the economics of biodiversity calls for transformational change as our demands of nature outstrips its capacity to supply for us. I am delighted with our Government’s commitment to invest in new green industries to create jobs while protecting the environment, and I welcome the Prime Minister’s 10-point plan to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050, although we certainly need more charging points for electric vehicles in Southend. However, legislative changes need to be implemented urgently to ensure that our action towards the environment and animals is responsible and sustainable.
Ultimately, if we damage the environment, we will destroy ecosystems that animals rely on. It is estimated that because of our activities over the past 200,000 years, the total amount of living matter on the planet has actually decreased by 50%—shocking. As biomass falls, so does biodiversity. We see large depletions in insect numbers and bulky oceanic fish such as tuna and cod, and the conversion of natural habitats to agriculture. Most wildlife hotspots are now down to small percentages of their former ranges.
I want to see our country leading on this issue. Our presidency of the COP26 summit in November will, I hope, spur urgent action throughout the world. We should review our international aid budget, and direct it towards global habitat and biodiversity protection, which unfortunately has recently fallen to below 0.5%. One way we can enhance domestic biodiversity and allow nature to recover is to rewild our seas, uplands, peatlands, flood lands and coasts. We should ensure that at least 30% of our seas are no-activity marine conservation zones. I certainly welcome the reintroduction of the beaver and I hope we will be able to reintroduce many more species that were once native to England.
The Bill, I believe, will be critical in setting out how farmers protect nature and the environment. Intensive farming and industrial fishing practices are two of the main drivers of biodiversity loss. I am sorry if that upsets colleagues who have many farms in their constituencies, but factory farming is unsustainable as a system. It is polluting our air and water, killing our wildlife, degrading our soil, and altering our climate. We are out of balance with nature and our environment. That must change. The natural world and the man-made world are closely linked, and therefore planning reforms should be legally implemented to enable nature’s recovery, strengthening protections for sites designated for nature, and increasing developer contributions to nature’s recovery. Our population continues to grow at a fast pace, which puts pressure on our greenbelts and countryside. I hope the Government will not allow more of our green and open land to be covered by large-scale developments.
In conclusion, it is so important that we approach the challenge of building back better by creating a brighter future with respect for our environment and other living beings with which we share our planet. We must think sustainably about our health, the billions of sentient animals and the protection of our precious planet, as I am sure David Attenborough would agree.