Category Archives: Natural environment

The Judicial Review and Courts Bill threatens to deter challenges to unlawful environmental decisions

This post is by Carol Day, legal consultant to the RSPB and public interest law firm Leigh Day and Will Rundle, head of legal at Friends of the Earth.

On Monday, the Judicial Review and Courts Bill will receive its second reading in the House of Commons. Coincidentally, Monday is also when the seventh Meeting of the Parties to the Aarhus Convention opens. This UN convention, to which the UK is party, seeks to ensure that civil society has rights pivotal to the effective functioning of democracy, including access to information, public participation in decision making and access to justice in environmental matters.

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Food insecurity and the climate crisis are grounds to reframe thinking around land in the UK

This post is by the journalist and author Peter Hetherington.

We are reaching a pivotal moment, a crunch time for food security in a UK which produces barely 60 per cent of the crops it needs. An acute shortage of both HGV drivers, and people prepared to pick veg and fruit (EU nationals now largely denied access to Brexit Britain) has, once again, exposed the fragility of just in time delivery to supermarkets.  It’s a system developed for car assembly plants but ill-suited to the vagaries of food distribution across long distances.

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Exmoor is showing what a 21st century National Park can look like

This post is by Tony Whitehead, England communications manager for RSPB.  

In September last year, Boris Johnson committed to protecting 30 per cent of the UK’s land for nature by 2030. The government statement that accompanied his announcement gave details of just what this entails, it said:  

“Existing National Parks, Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONBs) and other protected areas already comprise approximately 26 per cent of land in England. An additional 4 per cent – over 400,000 hectares, the size of the Lake District and South Downs national parks combined – will be protected to support the recovery of nature.”  

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The new Sustainable Farming Incentive explained

This post is by Jonathan Baker, deputy director for programme policy, engagement and strategy in Defra’s future farming and countryside programme.

It’s the look of excitement that gets you. Working with the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO), I and other Defra officials are talking to civil servants around the world about how, in the run up to COP26, our reforms to agricultural policy in England represent a model for other nations to address the nature and climate crises.

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There’s a reality gap in the government’s promise to protect 30 per cent of land for nature

This post is by Kate Jennings, head of sites and species policy at the RSPB.

A new peer reviewed paper, published today, looking at the state of protected areas across the UK concludes that, instead of the 28 per cent claimed by the UK government, as little as 11.9 per cent of the UK’s land area is protected for nature, and that less than half of that may be effectively protected for nature. In 2022, governments from around the world will come together to commit to a new set of global targets for nature under the Convention on Biological Diversity. True to its stated appetite to be a “world leader for nature” the UK has already committed to halt and reverse the loss of biodiversity and to protect 30 per cent of land and sea for nature’s recovery by 2030 (‘30 by 30’), a target that is set to feature in the new global agreement.

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Why we need to talk about floodplains

This post is by Stewart Clarke, national specialist of freshwater, catchments & estuaries at the National Trust.

Whether it’s floods or drought, water is on the frontline of the climate crisis. This summer’s huge floods in Germany and Belgium, followed days later by those in central China once again prompted debate about managing floods and development in the floodplain. Whilst everyone seems to acknowledge the folly of building on floodplains, it still seems to happen, and we cannot avoid the fact that we already have lots of homes and infrastructure in these high risk places. So, while we must stop this type of development, we must also think carefully about how we use the remaining undeveloped parts of floodplain. In short, we need to think about floodplains in the UK differently.

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How to fix biodiversity net gain so it delivers for nature

This post is by Emma Marsh, director of RSPB England.

We are in a nature and climate emergency. Nature is in freefall and desperately needs new and stronger mechanisms to halt and reverse its decline. For too long, new housing and infrastructure development has been one of the causes of nature’s decline. The RSPB has welcomed the government’s ambition that all new development should leave nature in a better state, because it’s vital that it does.

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Four important messages from the National Food Strategy about how we can ‘have it all’

Right now, the UK food system as a whole is bad for our health, bad for nature and the climate and, on top that, it is not even offering an economically sustainable livelihood for most farmers. The National Food Strategy, out today, sets out an integrated plan for how we can turn these problems around. Its insights on farming and land use are particularly exciting because they show how we can ‘have it all’: healthy food, as well as restored nature, carbon sinks and sustainable farm businesses.

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Southern Water and sewage: how do we stop big business just going through the motions?

One of the things that has cheered me in recent years has been the signs that big business has started to take environmental action seriously and show real leadership in addressing the environmental crisis. I like to think that this is not only because environmental destruction has become a material risk to their business model, but also because they are run by people, who like the rest of us, appreciate that we need a habitable planet to live on. This includes being able to swim, as I do, in the English Channel without getting ill.

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