By Julia Hunt, Head of Advocacy
Promise of Restoring Our Wildlife Needs Action Now
For many of us, “the Queen’s Speech” conjures up images of Christmas, when she summarises events of the past year and offers a few words of thought for the future. But it’s not just at Christmas. Every year (with rare exceptions), the Queen gives a speech in a lavish ceremony to mark the “State Opening of Parliament”. This time, the speech takes a forward look. It sets out the Government’s domestic agenda for the following year – that is, the laws and policies they intend to put in place. It’s an indication of the Government’s priorities.
This version of the Queen’s Speech happened yesterday. The Government has a lot on its plate, but it is critical that they prioritise tackling the on-going destruction of our natural world. Last week’s State of Nature Report showed that nearly 1,200 species are threatened with extinction from Great Britain and 58% of our species now show negative trends in abundance. Our lives and our livelihoods depend on healthy ecosystems. They provide clean air and water, a secure food supply and the regulation of our climate. We desperately need strong laws that will not just protect but restore our wild habitats and species. We need ministers to prioritise wildlife and work together to create a joined-up network of wild spaces that will help nature to flourish.
So was the environment featured in the speech?
Yes, it was. It was nestled among commitments to develop our aviation industry and become a world leader in space technology but the speech did include commitments to environmental legislation. Encouragingly, it mentioned binding targets on environmental improvement and talked of “restoring”, not just “protecting” our wildlife.
We still have a job to do; please use your voice
The full draft Environment Bill was published today. The proof will be in the detail and in the speed and energy with which progress is made to develop that detail and enshrine it in law. We will be analysing it and working hard to ensure it contains the key phrases we need: legally binding targets, a duty on public bodies to create a nature recovery network, and a financially independent watchdog with the teeth to hold government to account.
Please act now and write to your MP to ask them to take the Environment and Climate Crisis seriously, and put in place strong laws that will restore the variety and abundance of nature in their constituency and across the country. Wildlife is vital for the support systems that maintain both our lives and our livelihoods. By the time we’ve conquered space it may be too late.