Local Environment to the fore

For the many who are focussed on the environment there were a couple of pieces on the BBC in the last week of local interest. Sunday’s Gardeners’ Question Time reported from the Millennium Seed Bank at Wakehurst. It is 18 years old, however this is not the most important milestone it is likely to reach in 2018. The Bank is soon expecting to host its 2 billionth seed. Currently, the Bank holds samples of nearly every species of flora found in the UK and aims by 2020 to hold 25% of the world’s bankable flora to help protect national and global biodiversity. David Attenborough considers the Millennium Seed Bank to be “one of the most important places on Earth” it is well worth a visit.

It was also good to see Horsham farmer David Exwood speaking to the BBC News at Ten providing his reaction to a speech delivered at the Oxford Farming Conference by the Secretary of State, Michael Gove. For the first time in decades the UK is devising its own agriculture policy. A whole range of issues – from animal welfare through to trade policy are likely to come back to the UK to determine and implement. Parliament is acutely aware of the need to balance food production and maintain biodiversity and a healthy environment.

Making use of the greater control of farming subsidies following Brexit, the Government is looking to promote biodiversity, such as through the use of farming land for wildflower meadows and as natural means to reduce the impact of flooding. Measures will help encourage both flora and fauna growth, providing habitats to bees, birds and other wildlife. Farming and environmental protection can coexist and it is the Government’s responsibility to help and incentivise farmers in their effort to do this. The reaction to the proposals from both environmental and farming interests seems positive – but it will be critical to implement them at a pace whereby farmers can adapt their business models. There is a balance to be struck between higher production and enhancing our environment. It is a measure on which our generation will certainly be judged.

Photo caption: The Commons resumed this week and it was a pleasure to welcome Horsham Rotary who came for a tour of Parliament on Monday.