The Labour party has pledged to protect forests and green spaces if they win the general election and have heavily criticised the current government for failing to stop environmental degradation.
Speaking at wildlife charity RSPB’s head office, Maria Eagle MP, Labour’s shadow environment secretary, said, “David Cameron promised us that he would lead the ‘greenest government ever’ but the reality is that we’ve had five years of environmental degradation and the decline of nature.
“This government has been a disaster for the environment. The most recent natural environment indicators show improvements for only 20% of all the measures assessed. This is not an environmental record to run on – that’s a record to run from.”
She continued that should Labour win the general election in May, the party would commit to defending the public forest estate and bring nature closer to people by making public access to green spaces a priority as part of a 25-year plan for the recovery of nature.
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The plan also includes commitments to “protect and improve wildlife habitats and green spaces” and “show real leadership in Europe” by defending environmental directives that provide clean air, beaches and wildlife protection.
The comments come after the government revealed that a new, independent public body would hold in trust the nation’s publicly owned forests.
Environment secretary Owen Paterson commented, “I want to put the future of our public forests on a clear and firm footing. Our forests and woodland will remain secured in public ownership for the people who enjoy them, the businesses that depend on them and the wildlife that flourishes in them.
“A new, independent body will ensure our woods are held in trust and managed for the long-term benefit of future generations, nature and the economy.”
However, the Natural Capital Committee recently warned that the UK’s natural capital is in decline and called for safeguards to be put in place. The committee argues that a declining natural environment is proving “costly” to our wellbeing and economy, citing benefits such as clean air and urban green spaces in monetary terms, for example the amount of money they can save the national health service.
Photo: Monika via flickr