Karen La Borde, Joint Coordinator of Cornwall Green Party and 2019 Parliamentary Candidate for Camborne and Redruth, comments on George Eustice’s Appointment as new environment secretary:
“Cornwall Green Party would like to congratulate George Eustice on being appointed environment secretary. This is a fantastic opportunity for George to put environmental issues at the heart of government and help Cornwall Council fulfil its ambitions to be net zero carbon by 2030.
“The new Environment Bill published on 30th January 2020 will give George Eustice exceptional powers to change the fate of our countryside and wildlife, and to respond to climate change. This will be his opportunity to either weaken or strengthen EU environmental regulations which became UK law when the Withdrawal Bill was agreed last December – regulations which protect our seas, water, air, countryside, wildlife and biodiversity.
“George Eustice assured me and voters at hustings during the election campaign that these environmental regulations were safe with the Tories and would remain the same. But George is not known for his sympathy with EU regulations. In the past has called them ‘spirit-crushing’ and even threatened to get rid of the bird and habitats directives. I would like to remind George of these assurances and will monitor any changes he makes to environmental regulations to ensure they do not reduce protection but enhance it.
“I will be particularly monitoring George’s approach to the use of GM crops, pesticides and herbicides which I suspect is where he is likely to diverge from EU regulation. At hustings he refused to commit to banning the use ofglyphosates and other damaging chemicals which kill our pollinators and birds, preferring instead a managed, risk-assessed use of chemical so farmers can maximise yields and profits. And we already know Boris Johnson is considering giving the green light to GM crops.
“It is vital that farmers get financial support to transition to more ecologically sustainable farming practice. It is a false economy that prioritises yields in the short-term at the expense of the ecosystem that makes them possible over the decades to come.
“On the plus side, George Eustice is a reasonable man who attended every hustings event in Camborne and Redruth during the election when many of his Conservative colleagues in Cornwall refused to do so. He has local knowledge and an understanding of the countryside which many of his predecessors in the Environment Office may not have had.
“The next 5 years will be vital for reversing the catastrophic ecological catastrophe we are facing and the chance for the UK to lead the way in putting environmental protections over economic growth. George Eustice has been given one of the most important jobs at the most critical time in the history of our country. Let’s hope he can live up to it!”