As I have written here before, we are lucky to live in an area with such beautiful countryside and I know that protecting it is a priority for everyone in South West Surrey.
I want to do what I can to improve our local environment which is why I launched my Green Spaces campaign last year.
Many of us (and not just those with dogs!) feel very protective of the Surrey Hills national landscape.
That is why, as part of my Green Spaces campaign, I helped to persuade Natural England that the Surrey Hills AONB should be considered for significant boundary extensions.
As a result they opened a consultation on March 7 which will run until next Tuesday. The consultation is open for responses online and will help to inform Natural England’s decision on whether to take forward the proposal. I really hope they do.
As part of that campaign, this week I am inviting my colleague Thérèse Coffey, the environment secretary, to come down to South West Surrey so she can meet the Surrey Hills board and see for herself how breathtaking the area is.
This week, the Surrey Hills team and I will take her to a couple of locations and speak through why we think this extension is so necessary.
While the Surrey Hills’ beauty is important, that is not the only reason we should be extending its protected area.
Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty are places where it is more difficult to get planning permission for housing and developments, so wildlife habitats are protected.
This means AONBs also boost biodiversity and play their part in our response to the climate crisis.
Ultimately I would like the Surrey Hills to have the even greater protection of a national park – the next step!
The Surrey Hills is where I grew up. It’s where I trained for the marathon last summer with my beloved Labrador Poppy (who sadly could not do the actual race with me).
It saved me and many others during the pandemic. And now it’s where, like so many people, I restore my mental health after whatever craziness the work week brings.
So when the final decision on whether to approve the extension eventually comes across Thérèse’s desk, I hope she will keep all of this in mind – as well as, of course, the breathtaking views she will enjoy over the course of the day. Let’s just hope the rain stays away…