Friday, 22 June 2012

The Fal Estuary

We are all profoundly attached to our place, this place, the space we share with our families and neighbours. In Cornwall we are blessed with spaces teeming with wildlife and famed for their natural beauty. However this gives rise to a particular challenge- the need to balance living and working within such a special environment whilst conserving it for future generations.

This balance is something that I know most of my constituents care a great deal about. While some say that we can't have economic growth without damaging the environment, that we have to preserve the environment at all costs, I agree with the Chairman of the Environment Agency, Lord Smith when he recently said green is as important as growth. The environment matters and good stewardship goes hand in hand with sustainable growth. Research shows most people and most companies understand that good regulation, intelligently implemented, is good for business, people and the environment.

At the moment there are a number of plans for the Fal Estuary that bring this issue alive. As with any proposed development either on the land or in our maritime environment, understandably passions can run high. What is important to me is that people base their opinion on evidence not just hear say. I have been organising and participating in meetings to discuss the future of the Fal with all stakeholders over a long period of time and will continue to do everything I can to ensure information and evidence is available to aid the debate and decisions.

My family have lived on the Fal estuary for generations and I hope will do so for many more to come. During my lifetime as we have all learned more about the importance of protecting our natural environment, I have seen vast improvements to the water quality of the Fal. When I was a child we swam in raw sewage off local beaches and witnessed the flooding of old mine workings into the Fal with some devastating effects. The paint I use to protect the old wooden hull of my sailing boat contains chemicals far less harmful than used by ship builders, fishermen and sailors alike years ago. The shell fish, including oysters and mussels are thriving. The Environment Agency should be congratulated for the work they do to protect and enhance the water quality of the estuary which is so essential to the habitats that are thriving here.

They in turn depend on large numbers of people, farmers, fishermen and other businesses as well as volunteers and conservationists to help look after the water courses and land around the estuary. I think there is reason to be hopeful that a balance between people, business and the environment can be achieved in the Fal. However this balance can only be achieved if all viewpoints are heard and respected, and final judgements are made on the basis on evidence not prejudice.

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