January 2019 - Mercury Column

Firstly, may I wish all readers of the Great Yarmouth Mercury a very happy New Year. With Brexit Day drawing ever closer it’s an important year for our country with many exciting opportunities for our nation as we leave the European Union. However, we shouldn’t allow the Brexit debate to mask other pressing issues facing our country, particularly environmental threats, something we see manifesting itself as significant erosion along our precious local coastline.

Throughout the last year, the media spotlight was on the environmental damage we are causing to the world, particularly with an over-reliance on single-use plastics. The stark message Sir David Attenborough set out in his final episode of Blue Planet II triggered massive public interest in what each of us can do to protect our planet for future generations.

Before Christmas, the Government announced a new Resources and Waste Strategy. It is a vital blueprint to help our country move away from being a “throw away” society. Although over the last decade Britain has made significant progress in improving recycling and making better use of resources, we must go faster and further to reduce, reuse and recycle. Here in Great Yarmouth we already recycle around a third of all our rubbish, but we can do so much more.

One of the most eye-catching proposals is putting a financial incentive on businesses and manufacturers to reduce unnecessary packaging. If not, they will be forced to pay the full cost of disposing of and recycling their packaging waste.

With different systems used by various councils, we all know how confusing it can be to understand what we can recycle. The plans to simplify the recycling system and introduce a countrywide system will make things easier for us as individuals.

Many constituents contacted me over the last year urging politicians to take action on single-use drinks containers. Introducing a deposit-return scheme, like those used in Scandinavia, will encourage us all to recycle drinks bottles and cans rather than tossing them in the bin.

This strategy is an ambitious plan that will tackle what many consider a ticking waste timebomb. We must seize this opportunity to protect our environment for future generations now.