Thank you very much for contacting me about these important environmental issues and what more we can do to reverse the effects of climate change both nationally and locally here in Woking.
Climate Change is one of the greatest challenges we face I can assure you that this Government is fully aware of the need for urgent action and I completely support their proactive stance on this. The UK was the first G7 country to legislate a goal to achieve net zero emissions by 2050, and with the UK hosting the essential COP 26 summit later this year, I am proud that we are taking a leading role globally both on the environment and on climate change. It is an inescapable fact that the U.K. itself produces a small percentage of overall global emissions, so this has to be a global effort if it is to be successful.
I can assure you that I have always been a strong campaigner for environmental issues on both a national and at a local level. Every day I engage with various constituents on a range of environmental issues and have frequently raised their most pressing concerns with my ministerial colleagues and with relevant Government departments. I have also worked closely with environmental groups such as WWF, Greener UK and Friends of the Earth during my time as an MP to urge the Government into swift action and to push for a greener future.
Also, here in Woking, I am in constant contact with Woking Borough Council on environmental issues and have been strongly supporting them with the Planet Woking initiative that seeks to get more Woking residents more involved in environmental action as well as set out plans for how we can make Woking more environmentally friendly. I also have campaigned hard in Parliament to protect our local green belt across Woking and Surrey, led a debate in the Commons regarding the noise pollution coming from the M25 locally and also successfully campaigned to get Natural England to conduct an urgent boundary review of the Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), with a view to its expansion, which I know was great news for many locally who frequently enjoy this precious green space.
Regarding plastic pollution, which you mention, I understand and share your concerns about the impact microplastics can have on the marine environment and I am pleased that the Government is already taking action on this. Our Resources and Waste Strategy sets out Government plans to eliminate all avoidable plastic waste throughout the lifetime of the 25 Year Environment Plan. For the most problematic plastics, the Government will go faster, working towards all plastic packaging placed on the market being recyclable, reusable, or compostable by 2025. A ban on the use of microbeads in rinse-off cosmetics and personal care products is now in force, as well as a ban on the supply of plastic straws, drinks stirrers and cotton buds. This is on top of a new deposit return scheme to incentivise people to recycle plastic and glass containers, that will reduce the potential for material to become microplastic in the long term.
I am also pleased that my Ministerial colleagues are driving forward ambitious action to reduce plastic pollution in the ocean through the Commonwealth Clean Ocean Alliance, supported by up to £70 million of funding to support developing countries to stop plastic waste from entering the ocean in the first place.
Moreover, you are completely right to raise the issue of air pollution in our towns and cities and how we need to incentivise green energy alternatives. The Government’s Clean Air Strategy aims to cut air pollution and save lives by reducing exposure to particulate matter pollution. This action is backed up by a £3.8 billion plan to improve air quality and create cleaner transport. This includes nearly a £1.5 billion investment to support the uptake of ultra-low emissions vehicles; £1.2 billion to increase cycling and walking and make our roads safer for vulnerable users; and £880 million to help local authorities develop and implement local air quality plans and to support those impacted by these plans. This funding is in addition to a further £2.5 billion to support a number of cities improve their local transport systems through the Transforming Cities Fund.
I am also pleased that at the Budget in March 2020, the Chancellor announced a £304 million investment in capital over next two years to combat roadside pollution, enabling local authorities to take steps to reduce nitrogen dioxide emissions.
I share your concerns regarding Global Warming and how the icecaps are melting. The UK is a world leader in clean growth and with Government support, £92 billion has been invested by businesses in clean energy since 2010. Our renewable capacity has also quadrupled since 2010 and the UK has the largest installed offshore wind capacity in the world thanks to our sustained investment in this crucial technology. These plans will help us build back greener by making the UK the world leader in clean wind energy – creating jobs, reducing carbon emissions and boosting exports. At the same time, the Environment Bill is being introduced to protect and improve the environment for future generations, enshrining in law environmental principles and legally-binding targets.
Thank you again for taking the time to contact me about these very pressing matters and for sharing your thoughts and these interesting suggestions for what more we can do here in Woking. I hope that I have shown just some of the key measures and lengths that the Government is going to in order to help meet the challenge of climate change and how we are taking a global lead on many environmental issues. I will be sure to raise your suggestions with local officials who are working hard to address climate change and sustainability locally to see what changes we can make to our town. You may also find of interest Woking Borough Council’s specific strategy document for how we can reverse the impacts of climate change locally here.
With best wishes.
Jonathan Lord MP
Member of Parliament for Woking