I have always prided myself on being Conservative Member of Parliament with a very prominent agricultural and green streak running through my work. It is become increasingly evident that the environment and natural world we live in is beginning to dictate more and more of our policy decisions. Never has the environment, as well as man made threats to it, been higher on the public, Government and global agenda and I am delighted to see more and more joined up thinking on this matter.
I like to think that my work in Parliament is reflective of my interest in this area. I am a member of both the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and Environmental Audit Select Committees and I am Vice-chairman and Chairman respectively of the Climate Change and Ancient Woodland All Party Groups. I know many people in Taunton Deane are ahead of the curve and fully appreciate the importance of the natural world and I am conscious that I attend as many debates and meetings on this subject on their behalf.
I believe this increasing attention dedicated to this field both locally, nationally and globally was positively manifested at the Paris climate change conference. I was delighted that the talks in Paris culminated in a global deal, with every country in the world now signed up to play its part in halting climate change. The deal will limit global temperature rises and avoid the worst impacts of climate change, which is vital for our long-term economic and global security.
I would like to reassure my constituents that I will continue to stand up for our environment in Westminster as I fully understand that a sustainable natural world and healthy and sustainable food production is the key to our future. At a time when our surroundings are under threat from increasing development and carbon emissions I will be a strong voice for the vital protection of our environment.
Backing Our Bees
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 am passionate about bees and I have long campaigned for greater protection for these pollinators that are so very vital to our environment, wildlife and food supply.
I was delighted when the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs introduced the National Pollinator Strategy. However, neonicotinoid pesticides pose a potential new threat to our declining bee population and is an issue that must be taken extremely seriously.
At the debate, I urged DEFRA to give careful consideration to the new evidence about the effects of neonicotinoid pesticides on our bees and to do this with balance and consideration for the need to produce food healthily and sustainability.
Please find my speech here:
The Importance of Our Soil
Like you, I appreciate the importance to our food security and natural environment of maintaining healthy, fertile soils. That is why I am pleased that the White Paper, The Natural Choice: securing the value of nature, published in 2011, set out a clear ambition for all of England's soils to be managed sustainably by 2030.
Specific steps have included a significant programme of research, into how soil degradation affects the broader ecosystem and how lowland peatlands can best be managed to help tackle climate change, and planning to eliminate peat usage over the same period.
I am confident that the national agri-tech strategy will help farmers take advantage of the latest techniques, to help them improve productivity while protecting the environment. Farmers can also access the Farming Advice Service, which helps farmers understand and meet their legislative and regulatory requirements.
In addition to our efforts at home, the Department for International Development funds a wide range of programmes around the world with agro-ecological components. I have been assured that land use management and soil and water conservation are among the objectives these projects support.