At the end of June MPs took the historic step of committing the U.K. to be a carbon neutral economy by 2050 - the first major industrialised country on earth to do. That week in Parliament I was pleased to meet local Climate Change campaigners including from Nymans – the glorious gardens which the National Trust acquired in 1953.
The trust describes it as “a garden for all seasons, with rare and unusual plant collections, set around a romantic house and partial ruins”. It is flanked by 275 acres of Sussex Weald woodland. It is no wonder that the gardens (and associated tea rooms!) are hugely popular attracting some 300,000 visitors every year.
However the impact of Climate Change is visible. Traditional staples of the English garden which relished soft, regular rain and moderate temperatures are being adversely impacted; non-native plants used to harsher summer climates are flourishing. Climate change is also playing a role in the recorded decline in butterflies and insects. While fewer insects may seem briefly appealing to some they have, of course, a critical role in our ecosystem. These small signs are indicative of major changes to our climate.
Last week I held surgeries and “pub chats” around the constituency and concerns on Climate Change were high on the list of points raised.
One issue regularly brought up is the imperative to ensure that new housing meets higher environmental standards. Great progress has been made (including on such simple objectives as reducing heat loss). However the increasing cost effectiveness of renewables means we can achieve far more than in the past.
Demand for housing driven by a range of reasons including our increasing longevity as a society means more houses will be required for years to come to meet the needs of the children and grandchildren of many that live in Horsham. Where these are located is the extremely difficult role of our District Councils. We are in the period of the cycle in which many sites of extremely variable deliverability, scale and sustainability are being proposed each of which will have to be looked at individually by the Councils concerned as to their appropriateness. The local housing requirement is significant but it is defined and is certainly not open-ended. In delivering we must ensure we have houses that are fit for the future.
Photo Credit: Jeremy Quin visited the extraordinary National Trust Gardens at Nymans last week to hear first hand about the impact of Climate Change and the practical steps the garden is taking to address them - including investing in renewables and a biomass boiler.