Getting research in to Parliament

On the iCASP office wall, amongst lists of current and developing projects, year planners and maps there is a brightly coloured poster about getting research in to parliament.  As iCASP is all about achieving impact from existing environmental science we do a range of activities to ensure iCASP’s work gets into parliament. Below is a summary of some of this activity

A new webpage on the iCASP website details some of our responses to various consultations and inquiries. These vary from the local to the national level and they draw on science right across the iCASP remit.  And it isn’t just written evidence. Recently Alison Dunn, who leads our Invasive Non Native Species project, was invited to attend and give oral evidence to the Environmental Audit Committee as part of their Invasive Species inquiry

Environmental Audit Committee oral evidence session as part of the Invasive Species inquiry

Written and oral evidence to inquiries and consultation isn’t the only way that iCASP and the people that work on iCASP projects get research in to parliament.

Another way of getting our work in front of MP’s and their researchers is talking to them directly.  Joe Holden Director of iCASP, was recently asked to meet with Alex Sobel MP and brief him on iCASP and the projects we are funding. iCASP has also met with MPs Rishi Sunak and Julian Sturdy out in the Yorkshire Dales to tell them about iCASP.

3 tweets showing direct engagement with MPs: Joe Holden meeting with Alex Sobel,  and Angela Smith speaking at Confluence 2018  and Alex Sobel at Confluence 2019 having both mingled with attendees in the morning break

Every year we invite an MP to give a key note talk at our annual Confluence event, and then plan the agenda to time their arrival to coincide with a break allowing them to talk to a range of people working across different iCASP projects. The Yorkshire catchment that iCASP covers is large so there are a lot of MP’s constituencies meaning the MPs we engage with will have different priorities depending upon constituency location. Many are involved with different select committees, have Ministerial roles or are in the shadow cabinet, or are involved with different APPGs based upon their personal interests. We had Angela Smith MP attend Confluence in 2018 and Alex Sobel joined us this year. This allowed us to engage with them as constituency MPs and also as members of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and Environmental Audit Committees respectively.

Networking is another way that our researchers can get iCASP research in to parliament. This might be as simple as attending an event organised for parliamentarians such as the recent IUCN Peatlands meeting in the houses of parliament.

The work of researchers working on iCASP projects gets used in many different ways, one recent example is the report from ONS looking at the natural capital of UK peatlands which drew on the work of several iCASP researchers. Researchers can also act as external reviewers of articles, reports and papers having an input that way. iCASP director Joe Holden was an external reviewer for the recent POSTnote on Wildfires.

And finally, in these days of social media its very easy to get information in front of MPs directly by just responding to their questions, for example Holly Lynch MP recently asked the government about future plans for managing peatland responsibly, we were able to point her in the direction of our optimal peatland restoration work.

This is just a snapshot of some of the activities we’ve been involved with to get research into parliament; it demonstrates the diversity of opportunities available and demonstrates the need for researchers to continually engage with parliament at different levels to ensure their understanding and knowledge is based on the most up to date science available. We have a busy Autumn of consultation responses planned, but it’s worth the effort knowing that this will be influencing policy making and future policies that affect the catchment and all who live here.

Let’s talk nitrogen pollution

Photo credit: Andrew Walker, Yorkshire Water

An iCASP workshop aims to kick start an integrated catchment approach to reducing nitrogen pollution from farming. But as most excess nitrogen comes from agricultural activities, improvements will only happen if enough farmers get on board, so a quick  Have Your say questionnaire is available for farmers to influence the workshop even if they can’t come along. (Please feel free to forward this item if you know a farmer willing to share their experience)

High volumes of nitrogen in the water or in the air are harmful to human health, but most efforts to reduce them focus on a single impact or activity such as slurry spreading. An iCASP project, if designed well with input from farmers, researchers, Defra teams and regulators, could bring about a new approach with benefits for farm businesses and the environment.

An agenda and directions to the venue can be downloaded from the links below.

Nitrogen Workshop Final Agenda

Kings Manor Info

 

Read moreLet’s talk nitrogen pollution

Defining a Future for Yorkshire Farming

The iCASP Public Goods Project has produced some resources which will be showcased at the Defining a Future for Yorkshire Farming today (Nov 15th 2018).

The one day conference hosted by the Yorkshire Food farming and Rural Network is expecting Secretary of State, Michael Gove, to attend as keynote speaker.

The National Farmers’ Union, one of iCASP’s partners, have been taking a keen interest in the publications which are based on a rapid review of the academic evidence for agricultural land management options linked to improving soil health.

Healthy soil can help to mitigate flood risk, increase crop productivity and store more carbon. These benefits are becoming known as public goods and their delivery is key to the new Environmental Land Management Scheme which Defra is developing.

The evidence that iCASP reviewed found that conservation tillage, the addition of organic amendments, introduction of grass-clover leys into arable rotations, and conversion of arable land to woodland can all enhance soil health. If you want to find out more, the publications are available on the iCASP Public Goods Resources page.

 

 

UKCP18 Regional Forum

The UKCP18 Regional User Forum will use the release of the updated UK Climate Projections 18 as an opportunity to bring together different sectors of the regional economy to ensure that the latest knowledge is embedded in catchment management decisions. The afternoon event in Leeds on March 8th 2019 will be designed for organisations who need to use UK climate projections for resilience planning and long-term business strategies.

IF INTERESTED, Quick email to:  icasp@leeds.ac.uk

 

Read moreUKCP18 Regional Forum

FAS Workshop

Flood Alleviation Schemes

This workshop led by Steve Wragg, Flood Risk Manager at City of York Council, was an opportunity for anyone involved in, or affected by, a flood alleviation scheme in Yorkshire to share ideas, problems and advice. It was also a way to get an overview of what’s going on and where.

The discussions were lively and we now want to explore the best way to keep such a network going.

RT @LeedsFAS: Come and see us in #Kirkstall tomorrow 10am till 2pm at the Kirkstall Valley Community Hub to look at our plans to… twitter.com/i/web/status/1…

We'd love to hear your views on #NaturalFloodManagement leeds.onlinesurveys.ac.uk/questionnaire-… We're running a survey to get a be… twitter.com/i/web/status/1…