view from Corstorphine Hill, Edinburgh
Whether we are outdoor types, nature lovers or not, at the end of the day, we all rely on nature and we need to make sure that wildlife and the wider environment are properly protected.
Yet nature is struggling. Once familiar animals and plants are vanishing from our gardens and countryside. We're pushing species to extinction, changing our climate, generating mountains of waste and polluting our rivers, oceans and even the very air we breathe.
For years, nearly all United Kingdom environmental legislation has come from the European Union (you can read my long blog post about that here). Although not perfect, this legislation has made a huge difference to nature protection and environmental standards in this country.
Although Brexit is currently being delayed until October, it is likely we will leave the EU then and it’s vital that we then still have laws in place to maintain and improve on our environmental standards. The Environment Bill (currently in draft form) is the legislation that will eventually replace the EU rules.
The broad aims of the bill are to:
* Ensure a healthy environment, which people understand and value and feel engaged in and where the impacts we make are effectively managed;
* Ensure equal levels of protection for the environment across the whole of the UK;
* Act as the driving force behind other legislation e.g. future agriculture policy;
* Strengthen the independence and powers of a planned new 'watchdog' (The Office for Environmental Protection).
The details of the bill are yet to be defined and this is where campaigners step in.
The UK government has committed ‘to be the first generation to leave the environment in a better state than we inherited it’. But will this commitment be translated into robust, meaningful action or will we be left with watered down laws and a poorer quality environment?
Greener UK is a coalition of nationwide environmental charities (including the Woodland Trust) that are campaigning to make sure that when it is enshrined in law, the environment bill is bold and effective and will ensure that our wildlife and wider environment continue to be protected. You can find out some of the various ways you can get involved through the coalition here and the Woodland Trust offers a form for you to email your MP here.
This Environment Bill is UK wide but focussed on England. To join the campaign for a Scottish Environment Bill, please go here.