An open letter to the Environment Minister and MP for Surrey Heath, Michael Gove regarding the EU Habitats Directive

30 June 2017

Dear Michael,

I am writing to you with a sense of urgency as I feel it is time that you reiterated your true position regarding the EU Habitats directive now that you are Environment Minister. This is particularly important as we prepare to leave the EU.

You are quoted as saying that, unlike many Conservative MPs, you are keen to see more housing built in your constituency but you clearly insinuated that the Habitats Directive was an impediment to that growth. With many planning applications now pending in Surrey Heath, I can assure you that your constituents would like further clarity on your position regarding the flagrant destruction of the green belt. This is, as you are surely clearly aware, a very poignant issue in the staunchly Conservative area of Windlesham. Indeed it is also keenly felt in Chobham, the village which you have chosen as your postal address for the convenience of seeming to be locally based for the recent election campaign.

Unlike yourself I have lived in Surrey Heath for 39 years. I speak to many constituents as I am sure you do. I also speak to many long term friends who have lived for decades in many of the wards in Surrey Heath. They do not speak to me because they have any political agenda but because they are my friends. Unlike yourself I do not have any media moguls or large well funded local party support to promote a message or concern but this does not preclude me from raising these important issues and speaking on behalf of many people. Therefore I ask again for clarity on this from you.

I understand that many of your supporters in Surrey Heath are property developers and for the sake of appearing politically astute it is to your benefit to sit on the fence. Indeed this is what you did regarding the Fairoaks development until the election came up and the consequence of the numbers of NO Campaigners in Surrey Heath had an impact upon your possible votes and thus directly upon your eventual support for the NO campaign.

You may believe that as a Green Party representative I am against development. That is not the case. Green Party policy focuses on the need for more housing. However our policy also promotes sustainable and affordable as essential elements of growth. Brown field sites and areas that require redevelopment, not favoured by developers as the profit margin is much lower, are none the less available and could be seriously surveyed. Levels of congestion and pollution are also major considerations. Air pollution as recently monitored by Friends of the Earth in Surrey Heath has been found to exceed both EU legal limits and World Health Organisation guidelines. Our Green Belt provides a protection against over development and pollution as well as nurturing a diversity of wildlife habitats and natural areas for local people to enjoy.

As Environment Minister you are in essence as responsible for health and well-being as the Minister for Health. I therefore look forward to receiving a response from you directly declaring your commitment to taking on this duty as an obligation to the people you serve rather than looking to short term profit in the interests of the few.


Yours sincerely,

Sharon Galliford
Green Party Parliamentary candidate for Surrey Heath