Responding to the new standard letter #peoplesmanifestoforwildlife

Thank you to everyone who has written to their MP about the People’s Manifesto for Wildlife

If you haven’t got around to writing to your MP yet then do please give it a go – here is some information and advice.

If you have already received a reply then your MP is quick off the mark – these replies often take months to arrive  even though what you are getting is likely to be a standard letter. 

If your MP is Labour then you are likely to have received a letter similar to this one. If your MP is Conservative then you are likely to have received a new version of the standard letter from Conservative MPs more or less as follows:

Thank you for contacting me about the Manifesto for Wildlife. 
 
I share your desire to protect wildlife and am pleased that the Government is committed to being the UK’s greenest ever. As the authors of the ‘Manifesto for Wildlife’ concede that their document is a provisional first draft, let me outline some of the actions the Government is taking to safeguard our environment. 

Since 2010 greenhouse gas emissions have reduced whilst the economy has grown, air quality has improved and land management schemes established to promote conservation. Over 11 million trees have been planted and 50 Marine Conservation Zones created to help protect our rich marine life, with a further 11 million trees on their way and 41 new Marine Conservation Zones proposed. Internationally, Ministers are calling for a third of the world’s oceans to be protected by 2030, trebling the current global target. The 25 Year Plan to Improve the Environment will build on these developments.
 
Outside the EU we can develop global gold standard environmental policies, taking more targeted approaches. Having left the Common Agricultural Policy we can use public money for public goods, rewarding environmentally responsible land use. Unless the scientific evidence changes the UK will also continue to restrict the use of neonicotinoid pesticides after Brexit.
 
Meanwhile, by leaving the Common Fisheries Policy and regaining control of our waters, we will be able to grant access and allocate quotas based on sustainability, allowing us to pursue the highest standards in marine conservation.
 
Ministers will introduce the first Environment Bill in over 20 years, establishing a world-leading body to hold government to account. We can, and I believe we will, be the first generation to leave the environment in a better state than we inherited it.

My MP sent me a slightly earlier version of this standard letter and I replied to it thus.  My reply is still of use in responding to this new standard letter but if I had just received the letter above I would be replying thus:

Thank you for your letter of [date].  I’m grateful to you for your reply although I have a number of comments on what you have sent me that I would like you to address please.  Perhaps you might send this letter to Defra ministers for a more detailed response, please.

Is your party still hoping to be the greenest government ever?  I thought that this was a claim made by David Cameron in the first few days of the coalition government in 2010 and which had been dropped some time ago but I am glad that you are sticking with that promise.  The People’s Manifesto for Wildlife contains many detailed policies, unlike the government’s 25-year plan (which I have always regarded as, to use your own words, ‘a provisional first draft’), that will help the UK achieve that position which is why I would like to hear a more detailed response to the document from Defra ministers please.

The Government’s 25-Year Plan to improve the environment is a skeletal approach to environmental action rather than a plan.  It needs an awful lot of flesh to be put on its rather bare bones and the People’s Manifesto for Wildlife is one contribution to that end from serious environmental experts and commentators which is why I would like to hear Defra’s more detailed response, please.  There are many aspects of the People’s Manifesto for Wildlife which already reflect government policy but you don’t comment on that or welcome that in your letter. Just for example, the areas of public money for public goods and better management for marine fisheries are both addressed in the People’s Manifesto for Wildlife – I’m surprised that you did not welcome these aspects (and many others).

You state that ministers will introduce an Environment Bill to establish ‘a world-leading body to hold government to account’ but environmental NGOs and commentators have more or less uniformly slammed the Government proposals for being feeble compared with the protection given under the current EU regulatory regime. This is another aspect covered in some detail in the People’s Manifesto for Wildlife.

I am grateful for your response but I would like to hear more, please, from Defra ministers. At the moment, Michael Gove has not responded to the request for a meeting with Chris Packham and I would ask you to ask the Secretary of State for that meeting to take place as soon as their two busy diaries will allow.  I understand that Sue Hayman MP, the Shadow Secretary of State, has promised to have such a meeting.

Thank you again for your response and, to reiterate, I would like you to ask Michael Gove to arrange a meeting with Chris Packham and I would be very grateful for a more detailed Defra response to this document.

Yours sincerely,

[Your name and postal address]

PS 11 million trees is very few, the government has been very slow to establish marine protection zones, air quality in built up areas has led to the Government facing legal action and wildlife levels have tumbled over my lifetime.  Are you promising that the protection from neonics will be as strong as that which would exist if we stay in the EU?  There is urgent need for more effective government action and these matters will certainly be keenly examined at the next general election.

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2 Comments

  1. Oliver says:

    After repeated email exchanges with my MP (or more likely his exec. asst.) I have now recieved a letter from Therese 'Roundup' Coffey through my MP's office.

    It's basically the exact same template response I had from my MP.

    I'll take your response and adapt it slightly.

    Thanks Mark.

    Keep up the great work.

    Likes(2)Dislikes(0)
    • Mark says:

      Oliver - thank you for persevering. If we all do that then the cost of not answering perfectly reasonable questions rises for Defra and the Government.

      Likes(2)Dislikes(0)

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