The PM’s environment speech – a few thoughts from me

By Controller of HMSO, via Wikimedia Commons

Yesterday  I wrote that these were some things to look out for in Theresa May’s environment speech:

  • is it all about climate change and plastic or does wildlife get a proper mention?
  • is it all about the financial value of being green – or is there any moral imperative?
  • is there any mention of wildlife crime – and if so is it all about foreigners being naughty?
  • will fox hunting get a mention? Or of any other forms of killing things for fun?
  • will there be a promise to maintain protection for species and habitats post-Brexit?
  • will trees be mentioned and will the impact of HS2?
  • will there be an admission of failure over recent years and a pledge to do much better and will the PM praise Michael Gove for his work so far?
  • will there be a statement that Defra is one of the most important departments in her government?

So, how did she do?

Here’s an amusing account of the speech from John Crace of the Guardian.  These are comments by environmental organisations.

When I read the speech I, too, thought ‘Either Gove wrote it or his team wrote it – it would sound better if he said it did when she said it!’.

This is how she did according to me:

  • is it all about climate change and plastic or does wildlife get a proper mention? There was a lot about climate change and plastic, and there were good things said, but I was right that there is little about wildlife in the speech. The wildlife NGOs aren’t getting the message across well enough. How many members do the Wildlife Trusts and RSPB have? The excuse might be that the UK PM wants to look as though she is in charge of everything and she is not in charge of wildlife cosnervation in Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland or it might just be that she doesn’t really care much about it.
  • is it all about the financial value of being green – or is there any moral imperative?  There was some stuff about the importance of passing things on to future generations but little about just not trashing things because it’s naughty!
  • is there any mention of wildlife crime – and if so is it all about foreigners being naughty?  As predicted, because it’s always like this, we did get a mention of ivory and bad foreigners but no mention of rampant wildlife crime on the grouse moors (I’ds hardly expect it but it’s not very impressive and is a long-held failing of the way the establishment including the Royal Family of course, talk about crimes against wildlife. However, this sentence was a nod in the right direction ‘Whether they are pets, livestock or wild fauna, animals deserve the proper protection of the law and under a Conservative government that is exactly what they will receive‘.  that will require a step change in approach to wildlife crimes on grouse moors then!
  • will fox hunting get a mention? Or of any other forms of killing things for fun? No, even though ‘We recognise that animals are sentient beings and we will enshrine that understanding in primary legislation.‘.
  • will there be a promise to maintain protection for species and habitats post-Brexit? Not really – this is a major issue for me. Although she did say ‘..we will incorporate all existing EU environmental regulations into domestic law when we leave‘ there is no promise to maintain that protection into the future – even for 5 minutes!
  • will trees be mentioned and will the impact of HS2? Trees were mentioned. HS2 was not mentioned.  I’m interested in how much moorland will be rewilded by the Northern Forest.
  • will there be an admission of failure over recent years and a pledge to do much better and will the PM praise Michael Gove for his work so far?  Michael Gove was praised – and rightly so. There was no admission of failure merely a grabbing at other people’s successes – the EU’s, the last Labour government’s and the work of NGOs.
  • will there be a statement that Defra is one of the most important departments in her government? Yep, more or less, ‘[our natural environment] is a central priority for this government.  Well PM, it’s a good job you’ve got round to metioning at last then!  but let’s not be churlish. It’s not a bad speech because it says what Gove said it should say and he has the right political nous.

Overall?  7/10 for content and 5/10 for delivery.

And of course, there actually is a 25-year environment plan – I’m reading it to see what I think of the detail.

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7 Comments

  1. Keith Dancey says:

    Well said, Mark, and thanks for your thoughts. Much appreciated. We must keep up the pressure. Labour must step up to the plate. The Lib Dems must question Farrons' remarks about conservation organisations now having too much influence.

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    • Tim Dixon says:

      Not aware of Farron's remarks, can you point me too them?

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      • Keith Dancey says:

        Hello Tim.

        It was broadcast on Radio 4's Today programme in an interview with (I think) John Humphries, earlier in the week. Farron was opposing subsidising farmers for doing 'environmental good' and wanted the current CAP system maintained (ie. the biggest subsidies go to the largest landowners) There are references to it on Mark's blog that day... Farron has tweeted that it was an insult to British farmers to suggest that the current farm subsidies were a reward for inefficiency.

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        • Richard Williams says:

          You seem surprised. Of course lovers of the EU want the current CAP system maintained as, in their eyes, there's denial that the UK could actually put something better in its place. Thus laid bare is one of the Remain fallacies (I won't go so far as to call it a lie) - that somehow we need to be in the EU to secure solid environmental protection and improvement. Look at Poland (deforestation) or Malta (bird genocide) and many places in between and you can see it doesn't work and yet the authority is too remote for us to effectively lobby: don't get the right environmental protection from a national government and you can hold them accountable every 4-5 years at the ballot box

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        • Keith Dancey says:

          Hello again,

          I have had to go through the process of registering with the BBC in order to use iPlayer and search for the interview and listen to it again. It took me some time. It was, in fact, on Farming Today, and the full interview starts at 09:18 minutes at this URL:

          http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b09kq17y

          On second listening (this time while fully awake:-) I still think I got the gist correct... if not all the nuances. It is available for the next 27 days.

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          • Tim Dixon says:

            Thanks Keith, I'll have a listen.
            Sounds like the Tories might be the best of a bad job.
            Oh my, never thought I'd say that!

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  2. filbert cobb says:

    http://www.thedailymash.co.uk/news/environment/i-have-always-been-an-eco-warrior-by-theresa-may-20180112142304

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