“South Dorset is the most beautiful constituency in the whole of the United Kingdom”. That’s according to its Member of Parliament, Richard Drax. In his maiden speech to the House of Commons, back in the summer of 2010, he declared:
“South Dorset is a place of monumental beauty. The people are proud and fiercely independent.”
His constituency, he told the House, is “dominated by our Jurassic Coast, now a World Heritage site.” The Jurassic Coast was recognised by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site in 2001, the only landscape in England which has been awarded this honour.
Drax sees his role in Parliament as “defending our heritage for the next generation”, and the Jurassic Coast is a key part of that heritage:
“our glorious coastline, which UNESCO describes as being of “outstanding universal value”… is a prized designation, and a magnet for 16 million visitors every year. Tourists spend nearly £700 million a year there and support more than 45,000 jobs. And yes, the unspoilt view is key to this success…”
On his website, Drax says: “Tourism is of critical importance to Dorset”, an industry which, more than anything, rests on the county’s natural beauty:
“millions of people travel to enjoy our beautiful wild coastline because of the unspoilt view. It is one of the reasons for the world heritage designation.”
And as he told Parliament in 2012:
““The area is popular with the sailing, boating and diving communities… there is no doubt that in a beautiful part of the country such as ours, tourism still has a major role to play and must continue to do so. More importantly, we must protect it.”
Drax fought hard to protect the unspoilt Jurassic Coast, “60 miles of the most highly designated coastline in England”, when it was threatened by the Navitus Bay Wind Farm. He lobbied the Government against the wind farm, telling MPs in 2012:
“I ask the Government to think very carefully about what they are doing before we blight one of the jewels in our coastal crown. […] I have written to the UNESCO world heritage centre to warn that our own natural world heritage site is in jeopardy.”
And it is not just “unspoilt view” of “our beautiful wild coastline” that matters; as Drax says: “the wildlife is important” too. UNESCO agrees:
“the property includes areas of European importance for their habitats and species which are an additional priority for protection and management”.
Drax’s efforts to defeat the Navitus Bay Wind Farm paid off, and plans for the development were dropped:
“I am delighted to note that, as the original United Nations inscription intended, this victory will preserve our beautiful coastline for countless generations of residents and visitors to come.”
Drax saw to it that the Jurassic Coast would remain “the envy of the world”. But new threats to the coast have arisen, such as the proposed waste incinerator at Portland Port. As Drax says:
“We live in a stunning part of the world, I’m slightly baffled why we should put it here”
Drax has said he’s got “two main concerns” about the Waste Incinerator: “emissions and the huge number of lorries coming on and off the island”. Traffic was mentioned by Drax as a problem for Dorset back in 2015:
“At the height of the summer, the road system struggles to cope and frequently does not.”
There’s no wonder the road system of South Dorset is gets overstretched, because as Drax says
“When the sun is shining, frankly, you don’t want to be anywhere else.”
More information on the Jurassic Coast as a World Heritage Site here.