General Election 2017 - Why it matters for wildlife

The snap UK General Election on 8th June is happening at a crucial time for our wildlife.

The next Government will have some big decisions to make for the UK’s natural environment – almost immediately. 

Never before have the stakes for wildlife been so great. The majority of our environmental laws are currently wrapped up with our membership of the European Union; and so are some really key policies that affect wildlife – including air quality, water quality, agriculture and fisheries.

Rutland Water Nature Reserve (pictured above) is just one of our international wildlife hotspots currently covered by EU nature directives; and our local bats and otters amongst the wild animal species specially protected.

The rewards for making the right decisions would also be great: a UK which is a world-leader on the environment with clean air, clear water, a stable climate, healthy seas, beautiful landscapes and townscapes and thriving wildlife in the places we care about most. All this is fundamental to the well-being and prosperity of our own and future generations.

We know that there is huge popular support for wildlife and the environment from people of all backgrounds. In a recent YouGov poll, 80% of people said they think the UK should have the same or stronger environmental protection after it leaves the EU.

The Leicestershire and Rutland Wildlife Trust believes that people are part of nature; everything we value ultimately comes from it and everything we do has an impact on it. We believe that each year, there should be more wildlife and more wild places, and people should become closer to nature.

The Westminster Government has a key role in making this happen, so we, and The Wildlife Trusts as a whole, wish to see all parties commit to:

1. Nature's recovery within a generation. To achieve this will require us to transfer all current EU environmental laws into statute in the UK and ensure they are policed and the Government to pass an Environment Act that restores the ecology of our rivers, cities, farmland and soils.

2. Protection of our marine wildlife through a well enforced and complete network of marine protected areas in the Irish Sea, and all UK seas, and sustainable fisheries policies.

3. New sustainable policies for our farmland, upland and lowland, to allow wildlife to thrive alongside food production. Taxpayer’s money should be invested in creating abundant wildlife, healthy soils, clean water, climate change mitigation and beautiful landscapes and accessible urban green-space for the benefit of everyone.

Take action!

You can help give wildlife a safer future. Candidates will be talking to you on your doorsteps and in your streets. You can let them know how much wildlife matters to you, and ask them what they plan to do to help it thrive . We’ve set out a few simple questions you can ask yourself and share with family and friends who share you commitment to the natural world:

1. What will your party do to ensure our wildlife laws remain strong and that steps are taken to restore the damage we have already done to nature?
If you've got a bit longer, why not ask: Specifically for England, will you commit to an ambitious new Environment Act?

2. What will your party do to ensure that wildlife thrives in our seas once more?
If you want more detail, ask them: Will you make sure that more marine protected areas are designated and policed?

3. What will your party do to ensure we have new farming policies to provide for nature’s recovery?
More specifically: Will you make sure that any payments to farmers and other landowners and managers are for positive environmental action?