Category Archives: Natural environment

Agriculture at a crossroads… again

cowsThis post is by Tom Lancaster, senior land use policy officer at RSPB.

If you do a Google search for ‘agriculture at a crossroads’ you’ll see that it’s a well used term. But when considering the implications of Brexit for farming and land use, it feels more relevant now than ever before.

Leaving the European Union will be one of the most defining events for farming and the environment in living memory. Whilst there are many potential pitfalls, the UK’s exit from the EU also presents an opportunity to rethink how the country can secure more sustainable farming and land use for people and the environment in the years and decades ahead.

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The government’s 25 year plan should mobilise private funding for environmental restoration

natural_investment_web_coverSince the EU referendum, there has been growing pressure for clarity over two things. First, how an independent UK will protect its natural environment, and, second, how we will pay for it, as most of the legislation that currently directs these areas comes from the EU.

Very soon, the government will be laying down the first major marker for its approach with its 25 year plan for the environment. The title is perhaps slightly misleading; it will not be a plan, rather an outline for how to develop a plan. But the signs are that it will contain some heartening aspirations and set out a strong framework. And above all, it will bring welcome clarity to an area where before there was only speculation and uncertainty.

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What’s the post Brexit future for farming in the UK?

8062314639_373504dea0_kThis post is by Green Alliance’s chair, Dame Fiona Reynolds.

For the many people who care about the beauty of our countryside and the natural environment, this is the big question of our time. We know the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) has been a net negative for the environment, yet we also know that the majority of the UK’s rural landscapes will continue to be farmed. So now is the time to get some anchors in the ground about what should be the principles underpinning a new farming and food production policy, even if it’s too early to put the details in place. Read more

We should use Brexit to put things right for our fishermen and for fish

A Fishing boat returns, Saltash in Cornwall. England.This post is by Blue Marine Foundation‘s executive director, Charles Clover and first appeared on the foundation’s website. It is a transcript of his speech to a Bright Blue round table on the natural environment post-Brexit, at the House of Commons on 14 December. 

I’d like to tell the story of an independent coastal state that recently took back charge of its own waters and its own fish. It ejected all industrial vessels, including its own trawlers, from within six miles of its coast. It threw out all foreign vessels and is allowing them back in only after they agree to fish to under one of the toughest regimes in the world. The results have been remarkable. Read more

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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