Category Archives: Natural environment

We have ignored the impact of land management on flood risk for too long

flood-sign_-tico-_flickrThis post is by Daniel Johns, head of adaptation at the Committee on Climate Change.

Over centuries our communities have developed around rivers, to ensure easy access to water for use by populations, industry and for navigation. At the same time, landowners have straightened and dredged rivers, drained their land and removed natural features, aiming to raise agricultural output and get excess water away downstream as quickly as possible. But, in recent years, we have seen time and again the enormous cost of too much water at once flowing into our heavily populated floodplains, despite the billions spent by the government on flood defences. Read more

Natural markets: an idea whose time has come?

Sunset reflected in the meanders of the Cuckmere River, Cuckmere Valley, East Sussex.It’s heretical for a think tank to admit this, but our latest big idea is not really that big. It is in fact medium sized and achievable step from where we are now.  It’s an idea so obvious, that once you hear it, you’ll be surprised it’s not happening already. But it isn’t, we checked. Rather than coming up with another big idea for nature, Green Alliance, in partnership with the National Trust, has researched how to enable existing big ideas, around ecosystem services and natural capital, to translate into real changes on the ground. The result is the Natural Infrastructure Scheme (NIS), a new market mechanism which would mean farmers and other land managers could financially benefit from environmental improvements such as flood alleviation and habitat creation. We think its simplicity could lead to ‘payments for ecosystem services’ becoming a mainstream market, reversing declines in nature, and supporting new, environmentally beneficial approaches to farming in the UK.

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Hard Brexit may have unpalatable consequences for UK agriculture

Credit-National-Trust.jpgThis post is by Patrick Begg, rural enterprise director at the National Trust.

At last week’s Conservative conference we saw and heard yet more evidence of Theresa May’s innate pragmatism. We’re to transpose all EU legislation, including those related to nature and the wider environment, into UK Law, buying us time to consider what we want, don’t want and what can be improved. It also keeps the show on the road and sustains current levels of protection at a time when uncertainty could have eroded confidence and the authority of those regulations.  This sounds sensible and is probably the best we could have hoped for.

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Why we have to put ‘beauty’ back into policy

derwentwaterThis post is by Green Alliance’s chair, Dame Fiona Reynolds. It is a version of a piece which first appeared in the The Guardian.

Beauty. It’s a word we all use to describe our delight in the world around us: a landscape we love; a butterfly’s wings translucent in the sunshine; or a wondrous piece of architecture. We all love beauty; we only have to watch the numbers glued to BBC’s Countryfile, and the way we head for the beach and the countryside as soon as the sun shines, to see that it’s something which meets a real human need.
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Why young people want government to make an ambitious plan for nature

6555772145_9eef8287c2_zThis post is by Matt Adam Williams, associate director of A Focus on Nature.

Young people voted overwhelmingly to stay in the EU, so we have been handed a raw deal by the decision to leave. That our voices and interests are regularly excluded from political conversations is nothing new. We hear increasingly of the housing crisis facing millennials, as well as the mounting cost of education and the decline in wages compared to our parents’ generation.
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What will Brexit mean for UK energy, resources and natural environment policy?

Now that the dust has settled after the referendum and the new government is in place, it’s a good point to take stock and consider what Brexit will mean for UK national environment policy.

Here, our policy experts give their insights on the likely impact and challenges of different scenarios in the three areas of our work: climate and energy, natural environment and resources.

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Brexit is the chance for the UK to inspire the world on environment policy

Kingfisher, Alcedo atthisThis post is by Richard Benwell, head of government affairs at the Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust (WWT).

Last week Matthew Spencer proposed a new British Environment Act to fill the legislative lacuna left by Brexit and set ambitious new environmental standards. He is not alone in calling for a new law.

Last year, a coalition led by RSPB and the Wildlife Trusts proposed a Nature and Wellbeing Bill, which was adopted in the Green Party and Liberal Democrat general election manifestos. ClientEarth has captured the public imagination with a call for a new Clean Air Act. And the Natural Capital Committee, the government’s advisers on nature and economics, say that investing in natural wealth needs legislative underpinning. Read more

Prime Minister May needs a bold plan to protect Britain’s environment post Brexit

British landscape in SummerBritain may be a divided nation but the environment is one thing we all still share. The loss of 40 years of EU environmental agreements will have a detrimental effect on the quality of our rivers, our fields and our lungs. Want to develop a new container port on that estuary? Wait for the European habitat law to go and then you only have to convince the Treasury to overrule guidance by Natural England. Live in an air pollution hotspot? Move out or suck it up, because current British legislation won’t protect you. Read more

Why the IN campaign is bringing out the big (green) guns

which way now? Two little owls on an old farm gateThe Prime Minister’s latest intervention in the EU referendum campaign illustrates how the environment is taking its place in the modern political canon. Speaking from the RSPB’s Rainham Marshes nature reserve, Cameron noted how our EU membership underpins crucial environmental protections, and talked about the importance of nurturing Britain’s countryside and wildlife. At the same time, his speech, if not his words, demonstrated that environmentalists are important too.

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Being in the EU gives us greater power over our environment

countryside.jpgThis is an edited version of an article that features in the latest issue of Green Alliance’s journal Inside Track which focuses on the environmental case for staying in the EU.

Lord Deben is chair of the Committee on Climate Change. He was secretary of state for the environment, 1993-97, and minister for agriculture, fisheries and food, 1989-93.

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