A massive opportunity wasted is how Boris Johnson's "build, build, build" speech feels.
As the country starts to unfurl from this enforced pause, a pause where many of us have relied on nature, green spaces and our wildlife to keep our sanity, it already feels like those glimmers of hope we started to nurture during lockdown, those tales of recovering species, clearer skies, marine activity where usually there was none, are being ripped apart by a recovery plan that seeks to blame unmet housing targets on great crested newts and to suggest the answers lie in building more roads and more large scale developments.
At what stage did our policymakers become so disconnected from society? A recent YouGov poll found that 91% of Britons wanted to see change and wanted the nation to learn from this crisis, with an increasing awareness that the health of people and planet are inseparable. And yet we emerge with a recovery plan that threatens to rip up planning regulations and hand the countryside over to developers, removing "the newt-counting delays in our system which are a massive drag on the productivity and the prosperity of this country," according to Boris Johnson and his team.
So, is this the future you have spent the last 3 months dreaming of? Did you wander along great stretches of tarmac during lockdown thinking "I wish we had more roads"? Did the lack of HS2 hamper you from discovering what was important to you and your family? Did newts cause unexpected distress as they seem to be doing across many other parts of life?!
If, like us, the 'build, build, build' speech has left you shocked, fearful for the future, terrified that the current extinction rate will continue to accelerate and mistrustful that there is any plan in place to meet the target of net zero emissions by 2050, then what can you do? We urge you to channel that anger, it would be easy to give up right now and fall into a pit of despondency but we know that you, like us, won't do that.
Let's use our voices to pile on the pressure, to be thorns in the sides of our policymakers, to help them understand that this is not what we want, that we want a green recovery that cherishes our environment, that prioritises biodiversity and community, that ensures developers take a responsible approach to all species and to building homes that are fit for purpose.
Use the social media platforms we all have to spread the word and galvanise others. Write to your local MP and tell them about why this is not acceptable, about why you value wildlife. Sign up to the Wildlife Trusts who promise to defend habitat regulations and to tell us how to help as the situation becomes more clear.
Please don't despair, take a moment to grieve but then light that fire in your belly and shout from the rooftops, we want green to be front and centre of our recovery, we want a future we can believe in.
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