Category Archives: Natural environment

The pivotal year ahead for UK water management

water squareMost of us probably only think about our water company when we pay the bill, when there’s a hosepipe ban or when we see news stories about how much water bosses are getting paid. Labour’s proposal to renationalise the water industry highlights some of these popular concerns. With all this noise it is easy to forget that the water industry is a hugely significant player in environmental protection. Whatever the future ownership of the water industry looks like, we urgently need to improve the state of our waterways, increasing resilience and restoring nature. Read more

Chris Packham: don’t just moan, stand and be counted

chris packhamThis week, we interviewed the naturalist, nature photographer and author, Chris Packham, about his Walk for Wildlife which will take place in London on Saturday 22 September.

Q. The Walk for Wildlife is a great initiative but why are you doing it now? Why this moment?

I, and many others, have reached a critical point of frustration. We know from the State of Nature report that many habitats and species are in decline. I’m armed with an enormous repository of statistics which I felt I had normalised, and they were just going up. Every time a new survey is done the figures get worse. I sensed that it wasn’t just me feeling this way. There is a general groundswell of people thinking “we have to do something now”. Read more

The new Agriculture Bill has no vision for food

This post is by Tim Lang, professor of food policy, Centre for Food Policy, City, University of London. It has also been published by the Food Research Collaboration.

Tomatoes production line bodyThe Agriculture Bill published last week was long awaited. It’s mostly about money: those £3.2bn Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) subsidies which will start evaporating in seven months.

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Why we should celebrate new farm support based on ‘public goods’

meadow-2503453_1920The long awaited agriculture bill has had a pretty resounding thumbs up from environmentalists.  Greener UK described it as “a huge step in the right direction”. Wildlife and Countryside Link called it “an important step forward for farming and wildlife”. WWF’s Tony Juniper tweeted: “For all of the 35 years I’ve been in conservation, the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) has been one of the biggest threats to our wildlife & environment. Today I hope that the tanker begins to turn.” Others heralded “a landmark day” or said that Michael Gove had “fired the starting pistol for change”, or viewed it as “a welcome statement of intent about this Government’s future policy ambitions”. Read more

What should an agriculture policy designed for public benefit look like?

Yorkshire grazing meadowsThis post is by Jonathan Baker, senior land use policy adviser at the Country Land and Business Association (CLA).

In these fevered times, environmentalists and farmers find themselves in agreement about much. There is an established cross sector consensus on the importance of the UK developing trade policies that do not export environmental problems, the need for a substantial and long term budget to support rural areas, and – albeit grudgingly in some instances – the necessity of moving to an agricultural policy that focuses on providing public benefits in return for public money.

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What will the Clean Air Strategy really do for people and nature?

Apis_mellifera_-_Senecio_paludosus_-_KeilaThis post is by Jenny Hawley, senior policy officer at Plantlife.

Debate around the government’s Clean Air Strategy has been focused on whether it will cut the roadside nitrogen dioxide (NO2) pollution from city traffic. But it is also supposed to take a long overdue look at other air quality issues. Read more

How serious is the government about high standards for food and farming?

Various vegetables on display in grocery storeMost of us don’t have to think too much about the food we eat, beyond “what on earth am I going to cook this evening?” We assume there will be food we want at an affordable price, and that, if it is on the shelf, it is safe to eat and has been produced to acceptable environmental and welfare standards. But the new trade relationships we negotiate after Brexit could present significant risks to the UK’s food system which could put an end to this confidence. Read more

The future of upland farming in the UK: a business model that works

upland farming sheep.jpgThis post is by Chris Clark of Nethergill Farm. It is the second in a short series about the options for the future of upland hill farming in the UK. 

In my previous blog I outlined the economic challenges faced by hill farmers today and suggested ways that they can take back control of their businesses and become profitable in a post-Brexit world. Here, I outline how, at Nethergill Farm, we came to realise we had to fundamentally change our business model to survive.

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Why we can’t keep the environment separate from economics

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This article is by Kirk Hamilton, Cameron Hepburn, Alexander Teytelboym, Frank Sperling and Francois Cohen, the authors of Wealth of Nature, published by the Institute for New Economic Thinking at the Oxford Martin School and the Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment, in partnership with Green Economy Coalition.

George Monbiot doesn’t have a reputation for pulling his punches, and his recent Guardian column is a case in point. In it, he takes aim at the idea of ‘natural capital’: the idea that, by better understanding the economic value of nature, we might better protect it.  Condemning such attempts as “morally wrong, intellectually vacuous, and most of all counter-productive”, George argues that economic approaches to natural protection can only lead to one thing: the wholesale destruction of nature for profit.

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