In Mid-Cornwall we are lucky enough to be surrounded by the sea. Not only does it set the stunning backdrop to our daily lives for those of us who live here, but it remains our biggest asset in drawing the thousands of tourists which are so vital to our local economy.
Since being elected Chairman of the Protect Our Waves All Party Parliamentary Group in 2015 I have come to truly understand the perils that our marine environment faces and the cold reality that the Government needs to take serious steps to stop the pollution of our seas.
Very prominent in this fight are the problems caused when plastic bottles end up in our seas. More than 13 billion single-use plastic bottles are sold in Britain each year (that is a staggering 35 million every day) and only 57 per cent of these are recycled, with the remainder sent to rubbish dumps or left as litter. Millions of them end up on beaches and in the sea where they will pollute our marine environment for decades to come.
This is fast becoming a crisis whereby we are rapidly reaching the point where there will actually be more plastic in our seas and oceans than there are fish. Plastic does not bio-degrade but in the marine environment it gets broken down into tiny particles that are then ingested by fish and then enter our food chain. It is clear that is this a serious issue and is not just a danger to our seas but to mankind.
In the last Parliament I was pleased to work with Surfers Against Sewage to highlight these concerns and lobby Ministers about what the Government could do to take positive action. There is growing support for a plastic bottle return scheme to be introduced that would reward consumers for returning their single use plastic bottles.
Initially there was a great deal of resistance from both the soft drinks industry and the government to such a scheme. However, recently, Coca Cola, the biggest provider of drinks in plastic bottles put their support behind such a scheme. With this in mind I was delighted last week to see Lord Gardiner of Kimble, the environment minister, say,
“We are going to look at a number of measures to improve recycling. One of them is to have a full and proper look at the impacts and benefits of different types of deposit and reward-and-return schemes for drinks.”
That the Government is now willing to consider such a scheme is a very positive step forward. Since the Government’s announcement I have already spoken in Parliament, urging the Secretary of State for the Environment to publish more details of the plans being considered.
This is one of the biggest issues we will face in the years ahead, especially in Cornwall where the sea plays such a significant part in our lives. I look forward to continuing to make the case for a deposit return scheme for plastic bottles and any other measures that will reduce the amount of plastic that ends up polluting our seas and beaches.
As always, my team and I are here to serve the whole constituency and work hard to make a real difference to the lives of everyone needing support. If there is an issue you would like my assistance on then please contact me on either 01726 829379 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Additionally, I hold regular, appointment only, advice surgeries across the constituency. Dates of these can be found at: www.stevedouble.org.uk/events