Thank you for taking the time to write to me about protecting our oceans from a number of existing threats.
This is an issue which has sparked a large response from Newbury constituents and, as your MP, I intend to do everything I can to strengthen environmental protections on land and sea. Recently, I was elected as Vice-Chair for the All-Party Parliamentary Group for the Environment and I am a proud member of CEN (a network of MPs who are working to strengthen environmental protections), as well as standing under an environmentally conscious and proactive Conservative manifesto.
The UK’s Government has been at the forefront of the international fight for the preservation of our oceans. In September 2019, the Government led the establishment of the Global Oceans Alliance to help push-forward the vital safeguards the world’s oceans need. So far, ten countries have supported the UK’s call to designate at least 30% of oceans as Marine Protected Areas by 2030. This is in the mould of UK domestic policy which has recently seen the designation of new Marine Protected Zones, coupled with a review due to be released this year into the possibility of creating Highly Protected Marine Areas to strengthen our existing commitments to our own and the worlds’ oceans.
The UK is fighting hard internationally across a number of other areas, too. As well as being a leading signatory of the Paris Agreement which has seen decisive global co-operation, the UK and its Overseas Territories have introduced new ‘Blue Belt’ initiatives. The results have been fantastic. These areas represent the fifth largest marine estate in the world, the world’s largest coral atolls and 25% of penguins and currently the UK and its Overseas Territories can boast some of the world’s largest marine reserves.
The upcoming Environment Bill will also introduce new powers to charge the use of single use plastics and incentivise the use of more sustainable products. A number of Conservative introduced measures have reduced single use plastic consumption. The introduction of a 5p charge has seen single use plastic bag sales decline by 90%, as well as the banning on other items such as plastic straws, stirrers, cotton buds and microbeads reducing plastic waste. This will be complimented by new changes proposed under the Environment Bill which seek to introduce 'world leading' tax on plastic packaging. Furthermore, through consultation with businesses, NGOs and local authorities, a framework will be established to restrict the exporting of polluting plastic waste to non-OECD countries who are often the ones who suffer with oceanic plastic pollution the most.
In my role as your MP, Vice-Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group and member of the CEN I will remain absolutely committed to making sure that the UK is leading the world on environmental protections including by contacting the Minsters whenever necessary.
Thank you for getting in touch.