Here’s the final blog in our series of candidate responses to our questions. Once again, we’d like to thank all the candidates who responded for their thoughtful and considered responses to our questions.
We hope you’ve found it enlightening.
The full, unedited responses for this question are available in this document Candidates Responses-Q7.
What is your view on rewilding (increasing the area of land left to nature and the reintroduction of lost species)?
Charlotte Farrell (Green)
Charlotte says that rewilding has to be done with a full understanding of the required ecological structure and on such a scale that the wild area is self-sustaining. If it is done piecemeal there is a danger that one dominant species may lead to knock-on instabilities because species do not exist in isolation. Rewilding has a part to play in protecting and increasing biodiversity but at the same time we do live in a much smaller area than the US, where the reintroduction of wolves has had a very positive effect in some protected areas.
Greens oppose the current management system for the high peak peat uplands, which is done to favour grouse shooting, but at great ecological cost. Instead, Greens believe that this area should be left, driven grouse shooting banned and the flora allowed to grow undisturbed and birds of prey not killed by gamekeepers.
Caitlin Bisknell (Labour)
Caitlin says that we need a healthy, bio-diverse and resilient eco-system that benefits wildlife, farm animals, birds and tourism, as can be seen locally in the Moors for the Future Partnership which runs an EU-funded programme to restore wildlife habitats. Caitlin welcomes programmes such as these which are reintroducing Sphagnum to the peat bogs of the Peak District and the South Pennines, and bringing hen harriers back to the Peak District.
As Leader of High Peak Borough Council, Caitlin actively supported and encouraged Transition Buxton to reclaim the Council-owned Serpentine Nursery (now renamed Serpentine Farm) in Buxton and delivered new allotments in Glossopdale.
She also points out that a Labour government would put in place a 25-year plan for the recovery of nature.
Stephen Worrall (Liberal Democrats)
Stephen is very much in favour of rewilding and reintroducing lost species. Liberal Democrats in government would pass a Nature Bill and so set natural capital, biodiversity, and clean air and water targets, and empower the Natural Capital Committee to set actions to meet these targets. Liberal Democrats would also massively increase the amount of green space for people to enjoy by introducing a fuller “Right to Roam”, such as in Scotland.
UKIP makes no mention of any policies on nature or wildlife in its policy document.
Andrew Bingham (Conservative)
Andrew would like to see indigenous wildlife thrive and he has no objection to the reintroduced of certain species without disrupting the status quo in a detrimental way.
Sheep farmers, whilst they have been in place for hundreds of years before commercial agriculture, have been under attack by re-wilders as unproductive agriculture, with farm subsidies being seen as delivering ecological destruction. Andrew does not agree with this view of the status quo. Instead, he contends that the direction of travel of agricultural policy is towards developing and enhancing the environment.
He goes on to say that we have tremendous natural resources in the UK, and that’s not only our arable lands where we have one of the highest yields per hectare of anywhere on the planet. Our hills and grasslands are also a part of that. Without our uplands, we wouldn’t have a UK sheep industry. Most people realise, accept and value the fact that farmers have helped to produce the patchwork landscape we have today. It’s a landscape that not only produces our food, but also supports a diverse environment, supports jobs, underpins tourism and contributes greatly to the economy.
Whether it is sheep, cereals, or cider apples, the reality is that when UK farmers produce more, it’s also good news for the UK economy. The raw materials that leave the farm gate are the source material for the largest manufacturing sector in the UK – our food processors – and that equates to jobs and economic growth.