This week I secured a Westminster Hall debate on moorland burning – calling on the government to #BanTheBurn completely, so we can reach net-zero and tackle the climate emergency, halt biodiversity loss, and protect our communities from flooding.
Below is an extract from my opening speech. You can watch the full speech below or view the full debate here.
Moorland burning releases millions of tonnes of CO2 into the atmosphere, making the climate emergency worse; it destroys habitats, damaging ecosystems and ecologies; and as fires rage on our uplands, they increase the threat of floods from our lowland rivers.
This Government has routinely committed to ending the burns but we’ve yet to see any legislative progress toward this.
We can’t rely on the goodwill of landowners to stop the burning – just ask the residents of Hebden Bridge and the Calder Valley. We all saw on our TVs the damage done to those communities by last year’s horrendous flooding. Many now attribute those floods to heather burning on Walshaw Moor.
We all remember the terrible flooding our region suffered this time last year. 90% of homes in the village of Fishlake near Doncaster were flooded last November and unfortunately – over a year on – there are still some who have not been able to return to their homes.
For the sake of our environment, the Government must announce an immediate ban on this destructive practice and restore our peatlands to their natural bog habitats so that they can deliver for biodiversity and carbon sequestration. There is no way that this Government can tackle the climate crisis without ensuring that our peatlands continue to store this colossal quantity of carbon. It would be an absolute catastrophe if it is released.
Instead, we need to restore and re-wet our peatlands, using them as one of many natural solutions to the climate crisis. To do that, we must end the year-on-year cuts to spending on our environment and set out a plan for investing in nature. It’s time to end the fires, floods and climate chaos – it’s well past time we banned the burn.