We all want to see nature thrive.
From turtledoves in the orchards around Selling, lapwings at the Graveney Marshes, to songbirds in the Weald – Kent is home to an astonishing range of wildlife and habitats.
But nature has been under pressure in recent years. I’m really pleased the Government’s aim is for us to be the first generation in history to leave the environment in a better state than we found it.
Two exciting new Bills have recently been introduced to Parliament, setting out our future policies for the environment and agriculture outside the EU. These two pieces of legislation will put nature at the heart of the Government's agenda, not just in farming but across all areas of policy. I met representatives from the Kent Nature Partnership last week to discuss how these new policies can benefit our area.
The Environment Bill contains powers to establish a world-leading environmental watchdog in the Office of Environmental Protection (OEP) and will enshrine environmental principles in law, to replication EU protections. The Bill includes provisions for setting legally binding targets in four priority areas: air quality, waste and resource efficiency, water, and nature. It will also establish the principle of biodiversity net-gain for developments, meaning future developments will need to do more good than harm to the environment.
The Agriculture Bill will move farm support payments away from the EU’s model of paying farmers for how much land they farm, towards payments for delivering public goods – particularly environmental benefits. Tree planting, improving soil and water quality, and creating more habitat for wildlife, will all be encouraged under the new Environmental Land Management Schemes, to replace the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy.
This is a hugely exciting time for nature. I’ll be working hard to make sure these new policies benefit farmers and land managers in Kent and deliver for wildlife.