Chagos in Parliament: Environmental Protection
The government’s consultation on the creation of a Marine Protected Area (MPA) around the Chagos islands was recently raised in Parliament, when Andrew George MP asked Chris Bryant (the current minister with responsibility for Britain’s Overseas Territories) which “stakeholders” were to be consulted as part of the process. Mr Bryant replied that the government was “strongly encouraging as many people as possible to participate in the consultation” and also implied that the creation of an MPA was not a foregone conclusion. See here for the full question/answer.
Of course, the environmental protection of Chagos would be greatly assisted if the Chagossians themselves were allowed to return. In the words of Olivier Bancoult: “Chagossians will be the best custodians of the environment.” It’s therefore important that the issues of resettlement and environmental protection are considered together, not as issues divorced from one another.
The UK Chagos Support Association has previously called for the government to stop using issues like the environment as justifications for its policy of opposing resettlement: the truth is that the environment of Chagos would be best served by the Chagossians being allowed to return to their homeland and care for it in the way that they used to do before their exile.