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Bright Blue, the independent think tank for liberal conservatism, has today published a new essay collection entitled Conservation nation, which includes contributions from 21 leading and expert decision-makers and opinion formers from a conservative and independent background.

Conservation nation offers new policies for the Conservative Government to ensure nature conservation is promoted at home and abroad using all the levers of government in a joined-up way.

The essay collection includes contributions from The Rt Hon Richard Benyon MP (Former Environment Minister), Pauline Latham OBE MEP (Member, International Development Committee), Rebecca Pow MP (PPS, DEFRA), Maurice Golden MSP (Shadow Cabinet Secretary for the Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform, Scottish Conservatives), Emma McClarkin MEP (Member,International Trade Committee, European Parliament) Tim Breitmeyer (President, CLA), Ruth Davis MBE (Deputy Director of Global Conservation, RSPB), and Stephen Joseph (Former Chief Executive Officer, Campaign for Better Transport).

Key policy suggestions offered in the essay collection include:

  • A new principle of non-regression on environmental standards both in any new EU-UK agreement, but also domestically through the forthcoming Environment Bill
  • Once the UK leaves the EU Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), farmers should receive public funding, in part, for achieving environmental and public health outcomes
  • Enhancing timber regulations once the UK leaves the EU
  • A new right to environmental justice in the forthcoming Environment Bill
  • The new Fishing (Access to Territorial Waters) Bill should have legal requirements to fish sustainably and face down “the fishing industry and those who tout simplistic solutions to complex problems”
  • A new Special Envoy for Nature should be appointed by the Prime Minister
  • The UK should allocate at least £1 billion a year from the foreign aid budget to global nature conservation
  • The UK should seek to join CPTPP (Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership), which raises environmental standards in Asia-Pacific countries
  • Any new Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) signed by the UK should include proper environmental standards
  • UK Government should lead internationally for countries to sign a new global nature treaty in 2020
  • UK Government should continue to influence the World Trade Organisation (WTO) to ban harmful fishing subsidies
  • UK Government should lead internationally to ensure 30% of the world’s oceans are Marine Protected Areas by 2030
  • The UK adopting a target of having 100% of soya beans in the UK which are credibly certified sustainable, similar to what the UK Government has adopted for sustainable palm oil
  • In the long-term, the UK should look to phase out fuel duty and replace it with road user charging

The policies advocated by particular individuals are not necessarily supported by other contributors to the essay collection.

Eamonn Ives, Researcher at Bright Blue and co-editor of Conservation nation, said:

“The current Conservative Government does appear to be making progress on a number of fronts to better protect the domestic and international environment. Action on plastic pollution and ivory smuggling, and designing a more pro-environment successor to the Common Agricultural Policy, are all welcome measures. But, given the sheer, and often escalating, scale of deterioration of nature in the UK and around the world, there is still much more to do.”

“Despite it being a cross-departmental issue, the current approach to conservation policy is not seen or treated in this way. Many leading conservationists in the UK can often treat conservation through a narrowly defined set of policy issues. The UK government needs to promote nature conservation at home and abroad using all the levers of government in a joined-up way.”