Sarah Dyke is the Lib Dems’ most recently elected MP, representing the constituency of Somerton and Frome, but she has been fighting to get environment and climate change issues on the table her whole career.
"The importance of improving the environment is critical to a rural area such as Somerton and Frome, because we face the effect of climate change first-hand and the damage it can cause will be devastating for our local communities."
Sarah won her Somerton and Frome seat in the July 2023 by-election with a landslide 28.4% majority - and a 29% swing from the Tories. This monumental win was a welcome change for this Somerset constituency after 8 years being represented by a disgraced Conservative candidate. Sarah Dyke is proud of her local heritage and says her family's farming roots can be traced back 250 years in Somerset. Sarah studied Business and Agricultural Studies at Harper Adams University, which provides specialist education for the agricultural and rural sector, and her commitment to the local farming community and the environment is a vital part of who she is. She even has 60 of her own sheep!
Protecting local farmers and the environment are among Sarah’s top priorities, and they’re issues which go hand in hand, but equally she stresses the importance of strong climate action. She hit the ground running and within her first few months, she was advocating successfully for many causes. She started a petition to stop illegal sewage dumping which is polluting our waterways, is campaigning to save local Somerset bus routes, stood up for public transport infrastructure when she presented the Rural Public Transport bill and continues to champion a train station for the Somerset Levels.
Sarah Dyke has been a councillor since 2015 and represents Blackmoor Vale on Somerset Council. She was previously Portfolio Holder for the Environment on South Somerset District Council (SSDC) and Lead Member for the Environment and Climate Change at Somerset Council. Among Sarah’s biggest achievements as a councillor are the preparation and delivery of SSDC’s Environment Strategy in 2019 and the Environmental Action Plan 2022/23. Sarah also laid the groundwork which led to Somerset Council recently being awarded an A- grade for its climate work by the CDP (Carbon Disclosure Project).
Sarah’s work has allowed Somerset to spearhead green initiatives which affirm its commitment to a significant reduction in its carbon footprint. These include rewilding, investment in electric vehicle charging points, the rollout of e-scooters, blue bag recycling which enables residents to recycle more at the kerbside, Great Parish Tree giveaway, parish wildflower giveaway, overseeing a successful bid to the National Lottery Heritage Fund for a new visitor centre at Ham Hill and 'On the Edge' verge conservation trials.
"A lot of the green initiatives that you see across Somerset have been driven by me. Putting the blue bag on your doorstep so you can recycle more, that was led by me, I declared an ecological emergency to sit alongside the climate emergency I also led on, I adopted a tree strategy, loads of community initiatives around rewilding and tree plant and wildflower redistributions so that people can develop their own green marginal areas"
The Voice for Farmers
Sarah's unwavering support for farmers is also key to her work as an MP. She tabled an Early Day Motion calling on the Government to reverse punitive cider taxes, spoke in Parliament about farmers’ and agricultural workers’ mental health and took part in parliamentary debates on important issues such as Public Sector Food Procurement and Animal Welfare. She also questioned the low take-up of Sustainable Farming Initiative schemes in the SFI debate, included farming and cider production in her maiden speech in Parliament and gave a speech at an Apple Day event in her constituency.
Despite being a strong voice for farmers nationally and in Somerset, Sarah received some backlash during the by-election from Conservative critics who believed her environmental messaging and advocacy for farmers were not compatible. We know this couldn't be further from the truth! Sarah has long advocated for buying high-quality and locally sourced meat and dairy products, which cuts food miles and reduces emissions, and as a member of a farming family, she is very familiar with the dynamics of this conversation.
As Lib Dems, we recognise the significant role that farmers need to play in climate change and environmental restoration through agricultural practices which promote biodiversity and regenerative methods, whilst avoiding soil degradation, significant habitat loss and nutrient leaching. Additionally, horticultural farmers can play a role in carbon capture with their crops.
Support for environmental pressure groups and farmers is not mutually exclusive. (See also: Extinction Rebellion Farmers). As Sarah Dyke has pointed out, it is the Conservative party who can’t be trusted with the environment are who are undercutting British farmers through questionable trade deals which would allow harmful and low-quality meat into the markets.
Somerset Tree Strategy - A ten-year plan to enhance and protect Somerset trees and woodland. Five key themes: creating a woodland culture; making our treescapes more resilient and adaptable to climate change; expanding tree coverage across Somerset; focusing on the services and products around trees; creating a sustainable and flexible governance structure
Nutrient Neutrality - Written twice to Secratary of State for Levelling Up, Housing & Communities regarding phosphate mitigation. Additionally, raising the issue of phosphate mitigation in the King's Speech debate
We can't think of anyone better able to make environmental change happen in Parliament so we'll be doing all we can to help make that happen. Will you join us?
Read More and keep up to date: https://www.sarahdyke.uk/sarah