TAKING part in the Somerset Wildlife Trust’s Festival of Nature panel at the Royal Bath and West Show was a constructive affair.

It was an informed discussion about the future for farming and the countryside in Somerset as we move into the new era of paying for the services we need our land to deliver as outlined in the forthcoming Agriculture Bill and Environment Bill, whether that be clean water, flood control, healthy soil, green space to enjoy and more besides.

Species loss, habitat loss and environmental degradation is stark even in this glorious county (despite much good conservation work by farmers and nature organisations) but the panel consensus was that it is not too late to tackle this with the right will, policy framework and targeted funding. No doubt we’ll discuss this further at the Environment Forum I am hosting with the Somerset Wildlife Trust at the Wellington Community Centre on Friday.

It is crucial to tackle climate change and legislate for net zero by 2050. The UK must lead by example but can also play a major role internationally encouraging other world Governments to act. Securing the Global Climate Change Summit (COP26) here in 2020 would enable the UK to demonstrate global leadership on this.

Demonstrating strong support for this will help the Government’s bid so please show your support by signing my petition to Parliament. Please contact me at Rebecca.pow.mp@parliament.uk or on 0207 219 4831 for further information.

I am honoured and proud to have been appointed as Minister for Arts, Heritage and Tourism in the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport. It’s an exciting portfolio which includes museums, galleries, the Government Art collection, all things heritage and culture, the UK Festival of Innovation and Creativity in 2022 and bringing forward the Tourism Sector Deal.

Having acted, sung and danced through my childhood (with varying degrees of success, not necessarily all good) followed by 30 years in the media and having worked at blossoming tourist attractions including Hestercombe; championed the restoration of the Wellington Monument, and with ArtsTaunton, the Brewhouse and the Museum of Somerset on the doorstep, I have gained some invaluable experience in this area and am much looking forward to this new role in Government.

MP for Taunton Deane