I have been contacted by a number of constituents regarding support for an Environment Bill that puts an end to plastic pollution, cleans up our environment and restores nature.
I am pleased to have signed Greener UK's Charter for the Environment, calling for a Westminster Environment Act that adequately responds to the environment and climate emergency that we are facing by setting legally binding targets for clean air, water and biodiversity, as well as requiring that ministers report annually to Parliament on the state of the UK’s environment. We need laws that will restore our environment for generations to come.
I also support the establishment of an independent watchdog with the powers to hold the UK Government and public bodies to account, underpinned by world leading environmental principles enshrined in law. If we are to truly protect the environment we need a watchdog that does more than stands by and watch. We need a watchdog with real teeth and the power to enforce fines where necessary.
I completely agree that action must also be taken to radically reduce single-use plastics - including in Parliament. An inquiry last year conducted by my party found, for example, that the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs had purchased 2.5 million disposable coffee cups in the past five years. Considering that only 1% of these will be recycled due to their plastic coating, this is a colossal amount of waste. MPs must take drastic action to reduce their plastic footprint and legislate for wider societal change.
Along with my Liberal Democrat colleagues, I am calling for the Government to commit to a Plastic-Free Charter. We need to tackle our throw-away culture by providing incentives to reduce, reuse and recycle. This includes a plastic bottle return scheme, plastic-free aisles in supermarkets and a network of drinking fountains. Tackling plastic pollution will require us to work closely with local businesses to find non-plastic alternatives, it will take research and investment, but most of all it will take a willingness to change.
Each of us can make simple changes to move towards plastic-free living and I can assure you that I will play my part in reducing plastic waste by fighting for wider change in the law - as well as continuing to attend a number of local 'beach clean' events in North Norfolk - which I thoroughly encourage others to participate in! You can find out more about such events here.
I care deeply about protecting nature, keeping wildlife and natural habitats safe, and preserving our beautiful forests and landscapes and I will continue to put pressure on the Government to ensure that the protection of our environment is considered a priority.