Judi Dench and Emma Thompson urge politicians to restore nature ahead of protest

Dame Judi Dench and Dame Emma Thompson have urged UK politicians to restore nature as they joined calls for nature lovers to take to London’s streets this weekend.

More than 300 charities, businesses, and direct-action groups are set to take part in the Restore Nature Now march on Saturday with more than 50,000 people predicted to attend, according to organisers.

Chris Packham, Steve Backshall, Liz Bonnin, Feargal Sharkey and Dr Amir Khan are also supporting the protest, which aims to send a message to Westminster to make nature and climate a higher priority in this General Election campaign and the next parliament.

Dame Emma Thompson (Jane Barlow/PA)
Dame Emma Thompson (Jane Barlow/PA)

Dame Judi said: “Despite being a nation of nature lovers, the UK’s politicians are failing to protect the wildlife that we love.

“Pollution in our rivers and ocean, falling wildlife populations, and increased droughts and floods are all symptoms of the decline of our natural world.

“Nature needs more than sticking plaster solutions, we need our politicians to deliver a cure for nature’s decline. That’s why we should all join together to demand that all political parties Restore Nature Now.”

Meanwhile, actor and writer Dame Emma said: “Our politicians have a legal duty and a moral responsibility to ensure the next generation have a future full of thriving nature without the threat of climate disaster hanging over their heads.

“That’s why it’s time to challenge all political parties to Restore Nature Now – add your voice to the calls on June 22.”

The organisers said the march could be the biggest public demonstration ever for nature and the largest in the run-up to the General Election on July 4.

Protesters will meet at Park Lane at noon before walking down Piccadilly towards Trafalgar Square, then heading down Whitehall to Parliament Square.

TV broadcaster and environmental campaigner Packham said: “We’re standing shoulder to shoulder – whether we’re from urban ponds or national nature reserves, from big charities or local direct action groups, we are all lovers of life on planet Earth and we are going to stop asking and start demanding that politicians protect the world we love.

“So please bring your friends, your colleagues, your grandparents, your grandchildren. Get to the streets by bus, train, or bike – please just get here.

“We need to shout above the noise and make a difference. We will make a last stand for nature.”

The call from celebrities comes as new polling, released by Rewilding Britain, found that 77% of all voters say that politicians should be doing more to reduce the decline of nature in Britain.

It found that 68% of those who voted Conservative in 2019 agreed, as did 87% of Labour voters and 93% of Liberal Democrat voters.

Rebecca Wrigley, chief executive of Rewilding Britain, said: “The UK is one of the most nature-depleted countries in the world with just half (53%) of its biodiversity remaining.

“We need our next government to make radical changes to reverse this decline and commit to nature recovery, including rewilding, for wildlife, people and the planet.

“The public are clear, they want politicians to be doing more to reverse the decline of nature in Britain, there is simply no time to lose.”

Tanya Steele, chief executive at WWF who will be speaking at the march, said: “This General Election comes at a make-or-break time and the next UK government must be prepared to take bold action on many fronts to stand any chance of restoring nature by 2030, and of limiting climate change to 1.5C of warming.

“Failure means risking the last great opportunity to protect people and nature, increasing the likelihood of environmental catastrophe in coming decades.”

The campaigners said they have issued five main challenges to politicians on the action needed for nature.

This includes doubling the nature and climate-friendly farming budget, making polluters contribute to nature and climate recovery, expanding and improving protected areas, introduce an Environmental Rights Bill, and take climate actions to increase home energy efficiency, support active travel and public transport, and replace polluting fossil fuels with affordable renewables.