25 Year Environment Plan
The United Kingdom is blessed with a wonderful variety of natural landscapes and habitats and the Government’s 25 Year Environment Plan sets out a comprehensive and long-term approach to protecting and enhancing them in England for the next generation.
The goals of the plan are: cleaner air and water, thriving plants and animals, and a cleaner and greener country for everyone. The plan sets out action for using our land more sustainably and creating new habitats for wildlife.
Bees and other pollinators play a vital role in the security of our food supply and the quality of our environment. I welcome the work the Government has done over the last few years to protect them, most recently through its National Pollinator Strategy.
I also support the Government's stance that the use of neonicotinoids should be restricted further. Ministers have been advised by the advisory body on pesticides that scientific evidence now suggests the environmental risks posed by neonicotinoids, particularly to our bees and pollinators, are greater than previously understood and justify further restrictions. We cannot afford to put our pollinator populations at risk.
I was thrilled to see the ban on the manufacture of products containing micro beads come into force in June 2018. This was a landmark step in the introduction of one of the world’s toughest and comprehensive bans on these miniscule pieces of plastic which cause serious harm to marine life.
Just one shower alone is thought to send 100,000 microbeads down the drain and into the ocean, causing serious harm to marine life. Thousands of tonnes of plastic microbeads from products such as exfoliating face scrubs and toothpastes wash into the sea every year, where they harm wildlife and can ultimately be eaten by people. The ban will prevent billions of microbeads ending up in the ocean every year.
In 2015, the Government introduced the 5p plastic bag charge, a move which I resolutely supported. The move has been hugely successful seeing plastic bag sales in major supermarkets drop by 86%.
Plastic bags have a significant impact on the environment. Government scientists believe plastic in the sea is set to treble in a decade unless marine litter is curbed- with one million birds and over 100,000 sea mammals dying every year from eating and getting tangled in plastic waste. Further efforts to curb plastic bag use are planned subject to consultation later this year, with the possibility that the 5p bag charge will be extended to all retailers and not just big businesses.
I am glad to see the Government taking a leading role in fighting the global scourge of plastic pollution to protect seas, oceans and, marine life. In August, the Prime Minister announced that a further six African Commonwealth Countries have now joined the Commonwealth Clean Oceans Alliance pledging their support to reducing plastic pollution in the oceans.
Sale of Plastic Straws
Earlier this year at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Summit, the Government announced its intention to ban the sale of plastic straws, a move I firmly supported given the 8.5 billion plastic straws thrown away each year that contribute to marine pollution.
Since the ban was announced, McDonald’s have placed plastic straws with paper ones in all its UK restaurants and companies such as Weatherspoon’s have removed plastic straws from all their UK outlets.
I am proud to be part of a Government that is leading the international fight against the plastic pollution in marine environments.
In Castle Point
In recent months, I have been working with local organisations to reduce the use of single usage plastic such as packaging, shrink wrap, cable ties and polystyrene. I am proud that Castle Point Motors are taking a leading role in the fight against plastic pollution by pledging to end their use of single use plastics by the end of this year.
Earlier this year, I attended a beach clean on the shoreline of Canvey Island and saw the importance of organisations such as Baywatch and Friends of Concord Beach. It was encouraging to see how many constituents joined together for this worthwhile cause.