Many constituents have recently contacted me about threats to the environment.

As a former DEFRA Secretary of State, I know why protecting biodiversity, halting the decline of nature and restoring habitats and wildlife must be a priority alongside a COP15 summit that delivers for the planet’s wildlife as well as for its people. And that is why I will oppose any attempt by this Government to weaken protection for the environment and wildlife.

The UK continues to be among the most nature-depleted countries in the world. Research by the Natural History Museum shows the world has passed the safe limit for humanity in terms of biodiversity loss, and the UK’s score places it in the bottom 10%. It is very worrying that 11 of the 47 native mammals to Great Britain are at risk of extinction.

The Habitats Regulations provide for an extremely high level of environmental protection for our most precious and vulnerable habitats and species. The Environment Act 2021 gives the Government the power to amend the Habitats Regulations, and the Levelling-Up and Regeneration Bill will give it the ability to stipulate how the Regulations interact with Environmental Outcome Reports. For some reason ministers think that the Regulations are flawed and recommended changing them. They are wrong. I don’t think that farming and the environment should be in conflict. The climate crisis cannot be tackled without sustainable farming and I stand with our farmers and food producers.  People in the farming sector overwhelmingly want to see farming conducted more sustainably.

Hilary Benn
MP for Leeds Central

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