RSPB welcomes West Midlands Citizens’ Panel support for policies that benefit the environment in region’s recovery from Covid crisis.
Citizens’ Panel wants to see environmental policies in recovery plans, including:
- Protect and invest in local green spaces
- Encourage and enable people to walk and cycle where they can
- Establish a national park in the West Midlands
- Enable traffic free zones to decrease carbon emissions and pollution
RSPB West Midlands Manager Martin Page welcomed the publication of the report by the West Midlands Recovery Coordination Group Citizens’ Panel, which expresses support for policies that benefit the environment in planning the region’s recovery from the impact of the Coronavirus crisis.
We have seen how important spending time outdoors in nature has been for people during the Coronavirus crisis. With plans for how we will recover as a region now beginning to take shape, this research comes at an important time to show that people want nature and the environment to be among the top priorities as we look to build back better, healthier and more resilient communities, jobs, businesses and places for people to live, work and thrive.
Martin Page, RSPB
The report found that the Panellists had been spending more time outside on walks or in their gardens, giving them an increased appreciation of the natural world, and were supportive of polices that built in consideration of the environment, including:
- Making as many of the new jobs ‘green jobs’ as possible;
- Encouraging walking and cycling to keep people fitter and healthier, reducing demand on the NHS; and
- Maintaining green spaces and people’s connection to nature to improve wellbeing.
Reduced traffic and emissions and improved air quality were seen as positive impacts of the lockdown the Panellists hoped would be continued and/or herald some change.
If we don’t sort out the environment, we won’t have any left – I’ve been appreciating it more.
WMCA Citizens' Panel member
A survey of 500 people in the West Midlands informed by insights from the Citizens’ Panel also found that 22% of people ranked “a 'green recovery' that prioritises the environment” among their top three priorities for change in the region following the Coronavirus crisis. 9% ranked a green recovery as their number one priority, with only “better support for the NHS” (21%) and “economic recovery spread around the country, not just in London” (15%) coming out higher.
People’s focus right now is understandably going to be on coping with the continuing day-to-day challenges posed by Covid-19 and the impact this is having on all of our lives, not least on our health and jobs. I’m encouraged by this report though, and hope that as our businesses and communities recover the West Midlands Combined Authority will seize the opportunity to invest in nature and green jobs, create more and better access to natural greenspace, and protect the environment to build back a West Midlands that is better for everyone.
In June, the RSPB published Recovering together: A report of public opinion on the role and importance of nature during and in our recovery from the Coronavirus crisis in England. The report shares the results of YouGov research that found people in England overwhelmingly support protecting and investing in nature as part of our recovery from the Coronavirus crisis. A summary report of the YouGov survey results for the West Midlands has now also been published and is available to read and download here.
The RSPB has written to all of England’s Combined Authority and City Mayors, including West Midlands Combined Authority’s Andy Street, to ask them to prioritise nature and the environment in their Covid recovery plans, including by
- Increasing the amount and quality of accessible nature-rich greenspace where people live to help improve health and wellbeing and connect local communities and wildlife to the wider landscape;
- Adopting a target to double the area of land for nature through the creation and delivery of a Nature Recovery Strategy that will protect, restore, increase and connect our most precious wild places;
- Putting nature and the environment at the heart of infrastructure planning to maximise social, environmental and economic benefits;
- Investing in nature-based solutions to help mitigate and adapt to climate change while benefitting biodiversity, society and the economy.
- Promoting active travel through investment in green transport infrastructure such as cycle routes and footpaths to make cycling and walking both safe and enjoyable
We can all do our bit to help make sure the West Midlands Covid recovery plans benefit nature and the environment. Some of the things you can do include:
- Writing to West Midlands Mayor Andy Street – more than 600 people already have as part of the RSPB’s green recovery campaign.
- Write to or attend a (virtual) surgery with your MP. Find your MP: www.writetothem.com
- Contact your local Councillor to ask them to support and advocate the RSPB’s green recovery asks on your behalf. Find your local councillor here: www.gov.uk/find-your-local-councillors
You can use the asks in the RSPB’s green recovery letter for inspiration, but do make sure to share why a green recovery is important to you and what things you would like to see done to protect and invest in nature and the environment.
For tips on campaigning and lobbying you MP, and to sign up as an RSPB “campaign champion”, visit rspb.org.uk/get-involved/campaigning/