Letter: Misleading impression over countryside plans

I WRITE to protest most strongly at the tone and content of a letter published in the Mid Sussex Times on December 22 by the Chief Executives of a number of Wildlife Trusts and other organisations, relating to the countryside and the Coalition Government’s Autumn Budget Statement.

This letter gives a thoroughly misleading impression since it implies that some of our most important natural capital is to be consigned to destruction through the Government’s polices to invigorate growth in our economy.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

George Osborne is the first Chancellor to promote the valuing of natural capital as part of our national accounting system. This means putting nature at the heart of Government in all the decisions we take and recognising that the services we get from the natural environment (e.g. clean water, food, and carbon sequestration) are all vital to our economic prosperity. George Osborne has invested £3bn in a new Green Investment Bank which will support green growth across the country. He is also financing the biggest retro-fit home insulation project, the Green Deal, ever carried out by any Government. This Government has put sustainability at the heart of its policy making. This is a seismic change in our approach to development because it will ensure that new developments will have to take account of their impact on our environment as well as the social and economic benefits they may bring.

I am a supporter of the work of the wildlife Trusts in what they do to support some of our most precious landscapes and natural habitats, but I will not stand by and allow these organisations to tarnish their reputation by promoting absurd arguments in opposition to what they perceive to be Government Policy.

This Government is led by people who have lived in and who love the countryside. There is simply no way they, or I as your MP, would allow any change in the law that would have the impact being claimed by this campaign.

Nicholas Soames

MP for Mid Sussex