Bees and barrages

One of the things I’m most proud about as your representative in Parliament is how strongly you feel about the environment. One of my jobs as Opposition Whip for the Shadow Environment team is to help challenge the government to honour international agreements on climate change and environmental protections. I’m regularly inspired by your questions, your campaigning, your activism. Many of you have written to me, for example, about your concerns about climate change, about species decline, or about air pollution, and you often link the different problems with solutions which could help with all of them. Here are two ways I’m working to do my bit!

Many of you have urged me to do as much as possible to protect bumblebees, as the populations of most species are declining dramatically. I’m proud to say I’ve now become the species champion for the Shrill Carder Bee (Bombus Sylvarum), working closely with the Bumblebee Conservation Trust and other wildlife organisations. The Shrill Carder Bee was common a century ago throughout the UK but it’s now confined to just a few areas in the South West, South Wales and the South East and risks becoming extinct.

Bumblebees are great pollinators and have a key role in producing much of our food; they also pollinate wildflowers that are the basis of complex food chains, feeding other wildlife. Declining populations will therefore affect our ability to grow crops, and generally undermine our whole ecosystem. So, expect to hear a lot about the Shrill Carder Bee from me over the coming years! You can find out more about the work of the Bumblebee Conservation Trust on their website: www.bumblebeeconservation.org

We also need to produce clean energy to start combating climate change. We have considerable expertise in this area right here in Bristol. I’ve recently met with local firms who are doing pioneering work to help harness tidal energy. And I’ve visited a test tidal turbine complex at Den Oever in the Netherlands to find out how the technology works and what challenges the industry faces.

Our region has considerable potential to develop this green technology. The Severn Barrage and Swansea Bay Tidal Lagoon are two ideas that could provide a clean alternative in our energy supply. But they would need investment and government support to make tidal energy a viable source of power, and to care for the delicate ecosystems where they would be built.

I’ll continue to stand up for our environment in Parliament, and I hope you’ll continue sending me your questions and your ideas to help me do that.

 

(Article first published in the Bishopston Voice, September 2017)

 Photo by Dave Watson

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