Protecting our environment is an issue incredibly close to my heart. The Peak District is a special place and we must conserve it for future generations.
In my very first question in Parliament after being elected, I called for the Government to strengthen our environmental protections. I have actively campaigned for the restoration of our local peat moors and I’m proud to have secured a significant increase in funding for this.
In addition, I established and chaired the All Party Parliamentary Group on the Peak District, bringing together MPs and conservationists. I was also a proud member of the Conservative Environmental Network, helping to develop policy to tackle climate change.
The reckless use of disposable barbecues is also a major concern for my constituents in the High Peak. It is wrong for visitors to the Peak District to use BBQs and leave their litter behind. Disposable BBQs have been an especially serious fire hazard in light of the recent dry and warm weather. Moorland is particularly susceptible to wildfires, given its dense undergrowth. Warm, dry weather exacerbates this tendency.
That’s why I introduced a Ten Minute Rule Bill titled ‘The Disposable Barbecues Bill’, which received its first reading on Wednesday 17 November. This Bill would prohibit the use of disposable barbecues on open moorland and give local authorities the power to regulate and potentially ban their sale.
Following this, the Government announced that it would commission research to examine the role that barbecues, specifically disposable barbecues, play in wildfire incidents. This research will also be used to examine other flammable items, such as sky lanterns and portable stoves, that also have the potential to cause significant damage.
I am also a strong advocate of protections for protecting greenfield sites. We need to build more homes but they must be built in the appropriate places and with the support of local people, not imposed by Whitehall.
I am glad that reforms are being brought in to simplify our planning system and cut arbitrary red tape, while maintaining standards and protecting our greenfield sites. I am confident that greenfield sites will continue to have robust protections for years to come.
Under High Peak Borough Council’s Accelerated Housing Development Plan many sites across the borough including Gamesley Field, Roughfields and Hogshaw are currently under construction and planning permission has already been granted for even more houses to be built.
I am very concerned about the scale of this development and the pressure this is putting on our infrastructure and public services. I sincerely hope the council listens to local people and rethink their ‘accelerated’ plans.