15th October 2019

Best Parliamentary Champion 2019 - Helen Hayes MP

Helen Hayes MP with her amazing felt bat award.

Helen Hayes MP was awarded Best Parliamentary Champion for her work during 2019 as the common pipistrelle species champion.

When Helen Hayes MP (Dulwich and West Norwood in London) was offered the role of species champion for the common pipistrelle in February 2017, she jumped at the chance. Her enthusiasm for the role has grown over the last two and a half years.

Helen is an inspirational and inclusive figure. All of her activities as species champion so far in 2019 are listed below. To highlight but a few, Helen has raised awareness of the common pipistrelle through bat walks, sharing information on social media and visiting the Bat Conservation Trust offices where she met everyone including all of the National Bat Helpline team. Helen has also raised some very pertinent written questions with the government in relation to species conservation and wider environmental protection.

She sponsored a special House of Commons exhibit in July 2019 for the collaborative Biodiversity in Planning project which involves 19 organisations including most of the Rethink Nature partners. The exhibit was visited by a number of other species champions. Helen gave two talks at the exhibit in which she described the alarming trends in loss of species in the last 40 years and raised the importance of greater inclusion of biodiversity in the planning system.

The common pipistrelle is widespread although it is known to have suffered significant population declines over the last century. Common pipistrelles are frequently seen in people’s gardens and is the species most often found roosting in buildings which can bring it into the front line of human-wildlife conflict. Despite this, we have some indications that a combination of legislation and education has assisted in the partial recovery of this species. A positive case study that offers hope to other threatened species.

Common pipistrelles are also valuable in allowing people living in both urban and rural settings to engage positively with species conservation. Helen’s constituents live in an urban setting with a significant number of green spaces such as Sydenham Hill Woods and West Norwood Cemetery. Many of them are unaware of how much wildlife there is in these spaces and the opportunity that engaging with wildlife offers in terms of spending more time outdoors with its known health and well-being benefits. Because common pipistrelles can be found living and flying so closely to people, they provide a gateway to/starting point for appreciation of broader species conservation. In order to raise awareness of common pipistrelles in Dulwich and West Norwood, Helen has come along to bat walks and has asked BCT to organise some walks for her constituents – a great way for larger numbers of people to re-connect with wildlife.

The fact that she has managed to fit so much into her role as species champion as well as representing a very busy and multi-ethnic inner city constituency is a testament to her commitment to the importance of species conservation.

Actions taken by Helen Hayes in 2019


15th January 2019: Defra Written Question 208896 – “To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what plans his Department has to ensure that environmental regulations remain equal to those set by the EU after the UK leaves the EU.” https://www.parliament.uk/business/publications/written-questions-answers-statements/written-question/Commons/2019-01-15/208896/

4th February 2019 Defra Written Question 216362 - To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps his Department is taking to slow biodiversity loss in the UK. https://www.parliament.uk/business/publications/written-questions-answers-statements/written-question/Commons/2019-02-04/216362

25th February 2019: Defra Written Question 225567 - To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, pursuant to the Answer of 7 February 2019 to Question 216362 on Biodiversity, how much funding his Department has allocated to each organisation in relation to reducing biodiversity loss in each year since 2014. https://www.parliament.uk/business/publications/written-questions-answers-statements/written-question/Commons/2019-02-25/225567/

25th February 2019: Defra Written Question 225569 - To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment his Department has of made of the proportion of Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) in unfavourable recovering conditions; and what targets his Department has set for the improvement of conditions of SSSIs. https://www.parliament.uk/business/publications/written-questions-answers-statements/written-question/Commons/2019-02-25/225569/

25th February 2019: Defra Written Question 225570 - To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment his Department has made of the effect of the Woodland Carbon Guarantee Scheme on biodiversity loss; and what assessment he has made of the potential merits of extending the criteria of the scheme to include the enhancement of biodiversity. https://www.parliament.uk/business/publications/written-questions-answers-statements/written-question/Commons/2019-02-25/225570/

2nd April 2019: Defra Written Question 240045 - To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what plans his Department has to ensure the UK meets its targets under the Global Convention on Biological Diversity; and what assessment his has Department has made of the UK's progress towards meeting those targets. https://www.parliament.uk/business/publications/written-questions-answers-statements/written-question/Commons/2019-04-02/240045/

25th April 2019 - Meeting at the Bat Conservation Trust headquarters to discuss her role as species champion and how we can continue working together. Met all the staff on the day and spent some time talking to the National Bat Helpline team.

3rd of July 2019 – Sponsored and spoke about the Partnership for Biodiversity in Planning whose work has benefit for common pipistrelle and many other species https://www.biodiversityinplanning.org/news/wildlife-and-planning/

10th of July 2019 Bat walk for Helen and her constituents in Sydenham Hill Woods

Social media 2019 [More available for 2018]:

3rd March 2019 Retweeted BCT's tweet about World Wildlife Day and species champions https://twitter.com/_BCT_/status/1102166694364098560

3rd April 2019 Retweeted BCT's tweet about her PQ https://twitter.com/_BCT_/status/1113410903158947840

3rd of July 2019 – Tweet about Helen hosting the Partnership for Biodiversity in Planning at House ofCcommons


8th of July Retweeted BCT tweet promoting bat walk


10th of July 2019 Tweeted about the bat walk she attended https://twitter.com/_BCT_/status/1148263294383394818


28th of July 2019 – Retweeted BCT tweet about International Bat Night