Rebecca Pow, Environment Minister
"Soil is the stuff of life, as vital as the air we breathe and the water we drink. Our soils have been grossly underestimated for far too long: given their importance for healthy food, flood resilience, carbon capture and storage, biodiversity, public health and so much more, it’s amazing they have remained so neglected until now.
With the Sustainable Soils Alliance there is the determination, working through a joint approach, to push for positive change to reverse the soil crisis. There is a sense of urgency given the knowledge that we are running out of time before the decline potentially becomes irreversible. It is imperative we act now to design a land management and farming system that is truly fit for purpose.
The Sustainable Soils Alliance will ensure soil remains high on the public and political agenda, and continue to push for sustainable soils to become a priority. The answer really does lie in the soil – particularly where sustainability is concerned."
Caroline Lucas – MP for Brighton Pavillion
"Healthy soil is critical to human life on earth and yet almost a third of the world’s arable soils have been lost to erosion and pollution over the last 40 years. The Green Party advocates ambitious action to restore, protect and improve soil health and for this to be at the heart of the 25 Year Environment Plan.
All farming and land uses must protect and enhance the soil, within a strict legislative framework that monitors progress so resources can be accurately directed at soil conservation and restoration on an ongoing basis. We actively support measures to encourage organic farming too and believe the 25 Year Environment Plan should set far reaching targets for the reduction of nitrogen fertilizer use, for improvements to soil organic matter and for the restoration and protection of lowland peat soils. Our environment won’t be protected unless we tackle every aspect of soil health, as well as the role that soil plays when it comes to tackling climate change, reducing flooding and promoting wider biodiversity too."
Rt Hon. Michael Gove MP, then Secretary of State for the Environment
"It could not be more timely that this alliance has come together... You’re going to generate the ideas which will provide us with the material in order that we can continue this work... I hope that you will hold us to account in the course of the next five years."
Speaking at the launch of the SSA in Parliament
Tony Juniper CBE, Chair of Natural England
"Soil health is the biggest environmental issue that most of us have never heard of. Worldwide the manner in which we produce food is causing massive soil damage. This in turn is driving a whole host of other trends, from climate change to river pollution. It is vital that a bright spotlight is shone on the need to restore soils, not only for the benefit of the environment that we all depend upon, but for our food security too. I am delighted that the Sustainable Soils Alliance has taken on this vital task."
Patrick Holden: CEO, Sustainable Food Trust
"This is an historic gathering with an atmosphere I haven't encountered before. What's most exciting is that there are so many diverse groups represented, rather than the old-style polarity of organic farmers in one corner and conventional farmers in the other, as we are all united by the need to restore the fertility of our soils."
Zac Goldsmith MP
"Thank you, Neville and Ellen, for putting the Alliance together, it’s a magnificent thing. This room is packed full of heroes: YOU can take credit for this amazing shift that’s happened in politics; we have the perfect opportunity now…to get to grips with the problems that have been beautifully identified by people on these panels. It's an extraordinary opportunity."