We have been busy writing to Wiltshire MPs to urge them to help defend nature in light of recent government announcements that pose some of the biggest threats to the environment in decades.

Now we are asking you to do the same.

Please use the below format to contact your MPs and #DefendNature!

Dear Wiltshire MPs,

We are writing to seek your support in ensuring that the Government’s push for growth does not come at the expense of the environment.  We are sure you will be well aware of the very deep concern at the likely impact of the raft of recent announcements from Government on the environment. These include:

  1. Backtracking on farming subsidy reforms (ELMS).  This not only seriously threatens nature and the climate but also the nation’s food security.  ELMS is vital to enabling farmers to adapt to climate change, store carbon, increase biodiversity and improve the soil’s ability to hold and filter water and prevented downstream flooding and river pollution (see letter to The Times 27th September by Michael Gove MP, Theresa Villiers MP, Rebecca Pow MP, Derek Thomas MP Lord Randall of Uxbridge, Conservative Environment Network, CLA and others). 

  2. Review and potential removal from UK legislation of hundreds of environmental regulations inherited from the EU without adequate replacement. The Government is on the threshold of revoking many laws that currently protect wild places. At the same time, we understand that major cuts to the Defra budget are being considered that would further reduce the ability of Defra agencies to ensure regulatory compliance.

  3. Removal of requirements on future development to contribute to Nutrient Neutrality and Net Biodiversity Gain.  We need to balance future housing development with measures to tackle nutrient enrichment caused by increased sewage entering rivers. Secondary legislation to put in place the detailed arrangements for developers to ensure they provide for at least 10% net biodiversity gain is also in peril under the planning and infrastructure bill. This represents the writing off of a significant body work by the Civil Service, Local Government and Environment Sector in preparing for a new approach including the use of government funds under the Green Recovery Challenge Fund.

  4. Backtracking on the creation Local Nature Recovery Strategies and Nature Recovery Networks wasting many years of preparation and putting a number of Wiltshire Council strategies into disarray.

  5. Proposed easing of planning rules in “investment zones”. Investment zones as proposed would put vital protections for habitats and wildlife as well as local communities in jeopardy.  Although not public information I believe one is being proposed for Wiltshire in a highly sensitive area.

  6. Lifting of the fracking moratorium, banning new solar arrays on farmland and not providing clear leadership that renewable energy should be where innovation and growth should occur.  Changes in energy policy that favour fossil fuel extraction put net zero targets at risk. Now is not the time to sideline net zero.  Although considered by some unsightly, solar arrays can still be used for sheep grazing, benefit biodiversity and make a rapid contribution to the energy crisis.

Our concerns are not a few minor matters of detail; these proposals pose some of the biggest threats to the environment we have seen in decades and represent a number of U turns mid-way through a Parliament. Without the help of policies and legislation that protect nature, tackle climate change, mitigate development and support sustainable farming it will be impossible to achieve important environmental targets that the government and many others have been working towards. The scale of this concern is reflected in the open letter to the Prime Minister signed by 79 organisations and summarised in the article in The Times.

Monday’s Daily Telegraph carried a full-page open letter to the Prime Minister. It begins by stating that “pitting growth against nature is a false choice. Our economy, food security and health depend on a thriving natural environment”. The letter calls for a restored environment, vibrant economy and healthy society; values that I’m sure you share.

As you return to the House of Commons, can we count on your support in preventing recent announcements by the government turning into what many see as an ‘attack on nature’ and challenge the false narrative that those who care for the environment are part of a an ‘anti-growth coalition? 

With kind regards