Every bit of the Mid Dorset and North Poole constituency lies within 5km of Dorset's precious heathland. Just 150 years ago, this unique environment covered much of Dorset but 90% of it has been lost and the area that remains provides a haven for wildlife and the setting for our lives.
I was privileged to spend 24 hours with the rangers during my previous Election campaign and was delighted to return with Baroness Kate Parminter, former CEO of the Campaign for the Protection of Rural England (CPRE) and Lib Dem Environment Spokesperson. Visiting the Great Heath we heard about the fears of the Dorset Wildlife Trust about plans to leave the EU.
Building is not allowed within 400m of the heathlands, in order to protect the wildlife and to reduce the impact of domestic animals on the landscape and this has a knock on effect to the cost and availability of house building land.
The environmental protections from the EU could see this ruling overturned and with it devastating effects on the landscape. Funding for the heathlands and other nature reserves could also be lost after Brexit and with other sectors like universities and agriculture also losing funding the competition for remaining money will be fierce.
There are also fears for animal welfare and food safety standards. Fishing quotas have helped to see stocks recovering and while some fisherman rub their hands at the prospect of restrictions lifted the sustainability of fishing in our waters could be at risk from the short term free-for-all.
I was delighted to hear how Dorset Wildlife Trust are working with local councils and health authorities to use the new reserves including the Great Heath Living Landscape as part of the health and wellbeing agenda. Getting people out into the countryside to reduce anxiety, obesity and improve general healthier is a great way to bring the environment into people's lives and make them healthier too rather than people think nature is a nice to have.