THERE can be no question that there is a generalised agreement between politicians across the spectrum, as well as the public, that our precious environment has to be protected.
The only debate is about how best to achieve it. This is an issue that has particular resonance for Yorkshire. Our landscapes are amongst Britain’s most breathtaking, whether the uplands of the North Yorkshire Moors, the Dales, the Wolds or the 120 miles of coastline.
All need very sensitive management if they are to thrive and be safeguarded for future generations. Calls from the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust and the National Trust for strong new legislation are welcome and timely. In the midst of an election campaign, they give the issue the prominence it deserves, and also turn attention to the measures that will be needed once Britain leaves the EU and its environmental regulations.
One thing is clear – there must be no weakening of protection in a post-EU Britain.
The needs of the environment are many and various, whether they be tackling individual cruelties, such as the recent poisoning of a red kite near Pateley Bridge, managing tourism, or striking the right balance between people’s ability to earn a living in the countryside and conservation.
A broad range of voices will need to be heard. City dwellers for whom the countryside is principally a place of leisure may have strong views, but it is the rural community – not least farmers – who know and understand it best, being involved on a daily basis in issues ranging from land management to pest control. Their expertise will prove especially valuable.
All should take heart from the consensus which exists in favour of safeguarding our natural treasures, because that means, refreshingly, this debate is likely to be conducted in a constructive atmosphere free of rancour.