Building a green future for Wales and the world

  • Contributor information: CNP

Ruth Jones, the Labour MP for Newport West, and the Shadow Minister for Agri-Innovation and Climate Adaptation, on the importance of green spaces for people and the planet.

Brecon Beacons National Park (Credit: Matt Witcher)

Our natural environment and Protected Landscapes are jewels in our collective crown. It is our responsibility as the custodians of our world to ensure we protect and enhance our environment and do all we can to preserve our planet. 

I was born and raised in Newport, South Wales and our city is blessed with parks and green open spaces like Tredegar Park in Newport West and Belle Vue Park with its beautiful ornamental gardens.

We are not far from the age old Gwent Levels – which covers more than 5000 hectares in south east Wales. The levels were reclaimed from the sea by the Romans and have thrived for more than two thousand years as a prime example of what a successful relationship between human activity and the natural world can be.

Also near to Newport is the Brecon Beacons National Park, an area of remarkable natural beauty, unique history and thriving local communities.

All these spaces have been a part of my life and were an oasis of calm and sanctuary during the pandemic – where people could enjoy time outdoors during lock downs.

The many months we were locked down in our homes showed how important it is to ensure access to the natural world. I am determined as Member of Parliament for Newport West to champion all the work done by the volunteers and campaigners who tend to our green, open spaces, including Protected Landscapes.

There are two major challenges facing our planet and I believe that delivering for the natural world requires social and economic justice. The approach of protecting a few isolated green spaces and relying on markets is failing and gets us nowhere near where we need to be.

In any case, we are seeing protections erode. Time and again, across the world, we see the most disadvantaged communities suffering the worst impacts of environmental degradation and climate change. 

Their homes flooded and swept away in deadly landslides. Their fields and livestock left parched by drought. Their homes left cold and damp by lack of insulation, while fossil fuel dependant energy bills soar. Their children’s health blighted by fossil fuel generated air pollution, with sewage pumped into their local rivers and over much loved playing fields. 

We have all heard Ministers claiming they are doing all they can to advance the environmental agenda. But in reality, nature teeters on a cliff edge. I hope the new Prime Minister will soon set out clearly how she will pull nature back from the brink and recognise the role that National Parks can play in this recovery.

The Shadow Chancellor has committed a Labour government to a robust net zero and nature positive test for every policy. This is backed with £28 billion a year investment to meet the challenge of the climate and nature emergency, create certainty for business and provide leadership as we seize all the opportunities before our United Kingdom. 

There is so much for us to do – I will always stand up for Newport West’s green spaces and work with anyone and everyone to protect our planet and preserve our environment.

This article originally appeared in the Autumn/Winter 2022 edition of our Viewpoint magazine.

Our Friends of National Parks received their copy a few months ago. If you’d like to join them in receiving copies hot off the press, then please join us as a Friend today for just £3 a month. You’ll be supporting National Parks with your membership.