Sunday, November 2, 2014

What IS going to happen to our environment?





I confess to being increasingly worried!!  With an election being held next year in May, with the main political parties and their initiatives being on a roller coaster of changing support and clarity, and their leaders' popularity ebbing and flowing, the status of our system appears to be in disarray, if not meltdown.

Add to this the clear indication, oft repeated and despite claims of an intention by the Tory Party to be the Greenest Government ever,  such was not the case and  environmental matters and concerns became increasingly way down on the political agenda. Indeed, one might have easily come to a conclusion that the Coalition Government  had little intention of affording any wide examination to a pressing array of countryside and subject based problems be it fracking, badgers or bees!!  With the role and prominence of Natural England, ( as the Government's advisory body on such matters), seemingly being degraded by the year, with a former Environment Secretary being in denial when climate change issues  emerged and whose attitudes towards the "Green lobby" was both antagonistic and downright rude, what conclusions are we to reach?  With the Chancellor of the Exchequer preaching that development should receive priority treatment come what may, whether this was in conflict with environmental concerns or not, are we right to conclude that not only has the Tory Party no empathy with our countryside, wildlife heritage and environmental issues but that it has no intention of giving such topics prominence either.  Not a position that bodes well for those subjects if they are successful in the forthcoming election in May,2015.

And what of the Liberal Democrats?  I suppose, through time, there has been a number of instances where the LibDems have demonstrated both concern and support for environmental matters, so should we view them as a continuing positive force? Well, in my opinion I'm afraid not given their current popularity ratings. I fear their forthcoming situation overall will see a massive dive into obscurity, no involvement in any position of influence and no accompanying leverage that might be of benefit on environmental matters. I feel rather sad at airing this view, but fear it represents a reality.

And then there's the Labour Party. With only seven months to the General Election and taking account of their current position, I suspect there will be such an over-riding need to reinvent themselves in order to survive, be it in Scotland or Westminster,  that "environment" will be a topic way down the list.  Indeed, there appears to be few really firm policies in place already, either as work in progress or referred to intentions, despite them engaging actively with debates in the Chamber involving such subjects.

And then there's UKIP.  Well I leave you to actually identify any meaningful environmental policies they might pursue if , indeed, they manage to succeed in their repeatedly declared mission of gaining a presence in Westminster. I get a firm impression this is not a series of subject areas in which they are interested and I neither hear nor see any displayed expertise in that regard.

All this causes me to reach an inevitable conclusion that, if all of us don't fight very hard to ensure our wildlife and countryside get a "look in" within the next session of Parliament, then both "quality and quantity" will spiral to an all time low level. It certainly gives me no satisfaction or pleasure to come to this conclusion, but all the obvious indicators suggest there is simply insufficient interest or willingness to engage with such topics in any meaningful way, certainly by any of the main Parties.  The NGO's appear strong on advice giving, but increasingly weak on campaigning for change. Attending endless meetings and advocating change is needed to secure improvements is not campaigning, but little more than offering polite comments within a continuing round of ineffective discussions. There needs to be a little more boat rocking I'm afraid!  RSPB, the County Trust movement and other bodies need to up their game more than a little as opposed to simply providing commentary as bystanders. We can all do that!  If you purport to protect the environment and its wildlife, claim to have a million members then do something with that clout for Heaven's sake!

Whilst I don't believe they will achieve any controlling position at Westminster in a single party sense, I have nonetheless joined the Green Party as at least they have a respectable list of policies which address environmental concerns, express a recognition of wildlife and countryside topics and appear to have some idea of how integrated action can attain benefit.  If they are successful in gaining an increased number of MP's to add to the efforts of the current representative, Caroline Lucas, whose efforts I judge to have been absolutely admirable, then at least we can feel assured environmental concerns will not be abandoned. You may feel personally that placing pressure on your  Party of choice might improve matters and I certainly wouldn't discourage such action. But action there has to be otherwise the future might be very bleak indeed.