A Member of Parliament has reacted with dismay to allegations about the British government’s performance on protecting the environment of UK overseas territories.
Caroline Lucas, the country’s only Green Party MP, said the government’s systems were “constitutionally not working.”
She said: “The more I hear, the more shocking the situation seems to be.”
She expressed her concern during a hearing of the House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee, which is investigating the sustainability of the territories.
There was praise for environmental protection on St Helena and Tristan da Cunha – including for island students who have gained qualifications in the UK – but much of the 90-minute hearing was taken up with criticisms and concerns.
The small group of MPs also heard that lack of government transparency in most territories meant it was difficult to know why decisions were made.
It also exposed islands to risks of corruption – as seen on the Turks and Caicos Islands – said Clare Stringer, giving evidence for the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB).
Strong criticisms also came from the UK Overseas Territories Conservation Forum (UKOTCF)
St Helena Online published a live feed of reports via the micro-blogging service, Twitter. Tweets included:
UK overseas territories biodiversity group ‘barely functions’, lacks authority, doesn’t report to ministers, UKOTCF told Parly envir cttee
Tristan da Cunha praised for exemplary fisheries management in RSPB evidence to MPs’ environment committee.
Decisions in most overseas territories are made behind closed doors and hard to understand, RSPB told MPs. Creates risk of corruption.
Overseas territories citizens in UK buy lottery tickets so their home islands should benefit from funding, UKOTCF tells Select Committee
UK overseas territories lack access to big EU funds while French outlying islands can apply, thanks to constitutional differences RSPB tells MPs.
DfID ‘has supported’ eco protection alongside St Helena airport ‘and that’s good to see’, RSPB told Parly’s environment audit cttee
An edited version of the full stream of reports can be seen here.
House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee Hearing 17 April 2013
(note: sound and picture fail at the start; keep playing and it will come on)
Committee takes evidence on sustainability in the UK overseas territories
UK Overseas Territories Conservation Forum
Royal Society for the Protection of Birds: hidden treasures in the UK overseas territories