Caroline Lucas launches her ‘new deal for nature’

During a frantic fortnight of this general election campaign, Brighton Pavilion’s Green Candidate for re-election, Caroline Lucas, launched a ‘new deal for nature’ last Thursday 5 December. She set out a range of policies to protect and restore wildlife and biodiversity in the UK.

Mrs Lucas has tabled a private member’s bill to take a ‘new green deal bill’ through Parliament. If she is successful as a private member (as opposed to the Government,) an announcement will be made in the Queen’s Speech which sets out the legislative framework after the general election. Hove MP Peter Kyle is also taking a bill through Parliament to outlaw domestic abuse and it has already been guaranteed a second reading.

Ollie Sykes is the Green Party candidate standing in Hove and Portslade. Newly elected MEP Alex Phillips is standing in Kemptown for the Green Party. You can find a full list of candidates for the general election here.

Mrs Lucas said: “We are not only running out of time on the climate emergency, there’s also little time left to reverse

Mrs Lucas said: “We are not only running out of time on the climate emergency, there’s also little time left to reverse the catastrophic decline in nature and wildlife.

“This election has to mark a turning point and the moment when people vote for nature.”

She said that in the last two centuries Britain has seen a catastrophic destruction of wildlife which is now one of the most densely populated countries in Europe.  Over the past 100 years, we have destroyed 99% of flower-rich meadows.  Just in the past 30 years, 44 million breeding birds have been lost because of habitat destruction.

As the foreword to the report says: “If we continue to trash our planet we will consign not only other species to extinction but, ultimately, ourselves. We must put the self-sustaining variety of life – biodiversity – at the centre of all work by government departments. This report provides a blueprint for how to achieve it.”

Caroline Lucas commissioned the report to assist her work as an MP, and to inform the Green Party’s own policies on wildlife and land use. Mrs Lucas also is taking a new green deal bill through Parliament.

Brighton’s one and only Green Party Candidate said: “While the climate emergency has rightly risen to the top of the political agenda, much less attention is paid to the crisis facing nature.  But it’s equally urgent that we address this too.

“The Green Party has the best and most ambitious policies on nature of any political party, as both Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth have recently concluded.  But we cannot be complacent. 

“It’s not enough to have strong policies: we need to be constantly challenged to go further, and I hope this new deal for nature will put our natural environment at the centre of public debate, so that MPs in the next Parliament take decisive action on what’s needed to protect and restore nature and wildlife in Britain.”

The Green Party’s manifesto already contains over 70 policies on nature and wildlife and a commitment to put the natural world at the heart of government decision-making.  Among the pledges are the introduction of a Natural History GCSE, a 10-year transition to agro-ecological farming methods, better enforcement, and a Sustainable Economy Act which sets new legally binding targets for biodiversity, soil health and water quality alongside other measures.

Their new deal for nature puts forward 80 policy recommendations in areas including national parks and other protected landscapes, farming, urban wildlife, schools & young people and biosecurity.

Among the recommendations are:

  • A new statutory nature framework to place wildlife at the heart of planning
  • A new goal to designate 20% of Britain as national parks
  • Support for farmers to devote at least 15% of their land for nature
  • One hour a day learning outdoors for all primary school children, in addition to break time
  • Re-imaging towns and cities as places for people and wildlife with pocket parks, rewilding of public land around hospitals and other public buildings and some brownfield sites to be allocated temporary SSSI status

Patrick Barkham who writes for the Guardian about natural history is one of the authors and he said: “We are one of the most nature-depleted countries on the planet and still our wildlife declines. Policies for nature are too often seen as fluffy, inconsequential green window-dressing.

“We have a moral obligation to better live alongside other species but policies for wildlife are policies for people too. Our survival depends on other species and they enrich us all, wherever we live. A New Deal for Nature offers a mix of practical and inspiring ideas to show how we can revive nature in our backyards, neighbourhoods, cities and farmland.”

Another author, Helen Smith, president of the British Archaeological Society said: “Successive governments have regarded looking after our wildlife as a luxury, and as a soft target in hard times. This neglect has to end. Whether or not you have regard for the species with which we share the planet they, collectively, form our complex and fragile life support system – and the great weight of evidence shows that this system is crumbling.

The Green Party’s document ‘new deal for nature’ was written by a group of leading UK conservationists and nature writers, Mark Cocker, Jeremy Mynott, Jake Fiennes, Helen Smith and Patrick Barkham and commissioned by Caroline Lucas.