Category Archives: Natural environment

Will the government’s new Environmental Land Management scheme live up to its promise?

This post is by Alice Groom, senior policy officer at the RSPB.

Work done by farmers will be central to bringing back wildlife and protecting our most cherished landscapes. And business as usual is not an option, as we are losing our wildlife and our pollinators at an alarming rate, our soil is eroding away and most of our rivers are in a terrible condition. 

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After the bill, it’s time to act: what next for agriculture and trade?

This post is by David Walsh, public affairs adviser for WWF UK and a contributor to Greener UK’s work on the Agriculture Bill. 

The Agriculture Bill has finally completed its long, and at times tortuous, passage through parliament. For the past year, we’ve seen the debate focus on the effect of trade on agriculture, with millions of people signing petitions, tweeting and writing to their MPs. But, amongst this noise, it is important not to forget the fundamental principle of the bill: that public money should pay farmers to deliver public goods, which has remained at the heart of our future agriculture policy.  

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The UK needs to fix its regulatory enforcement problem if it wants a resilient economy

This post is by Emma Rose, director of Unchecked UK.

The government has set out strong ambitions with respect to the environment, alongside welcome assurances that both Brexit and the Covid-19 crisis will lead to a strengthening, not a weakening, of environmental standards.

However, robust rhetoric will only get us so far. Ambitious polices and regulations are only as good as the enforcement which underpins them. Now, new research into the UK’s regulatory infrastructure reveals the sorry state of the regulators which enforce our most important environmental laws.

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Why the Environment Bill must come back with a bang not a whimper

After a lengthy delay of more than six months, the Environment Bill will make a welcome return to parliament on 3 November. It will pick up where it left off with a committee of MPs going through the bill in detail and discussing where changes and clarifications are needed. During its absence we have faced major challenges, the resurgence of coronavirus and significant new evidence of the perilous state of nature at home and across the planet.

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We should be supporting the National Trust not bashing it for exploring our history

There were a couple of charity stories in newspapers over the weekend. First, NCVO and Nottingham Trent University reported that 39 per cent of charities had deteriorating finances. Shop and visitor income is down; events have been cancelled; several months of face to face fundraising were lost during the lockdown. At the same time, 56 per cent expected a rising demand for their services. The minister for civil society accepts that some charities might have to close. Many will struggle to meet demand for their services.

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Chalk streams are England’s rainforests and they need help fast

Just over a year ago, representatives from government agencies, water companies, regulators and voluntary sector organisations gathered at a conference hosted by the Chilterns Society to discuss the state of the area’s chalk streams. It followed an intense drought which caused a shocking 63 per cent of it’s chalk stream habitats in the Chilterns to dry up. 

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The government is paving the way to a megafarm future

In 2018 I carried out a series of interviews with family farms in the North York Moors. I was researching what impact the twin changes of leaving the EU and transitioning to a ‘public money for public goods’ subsidy system could have on their lives. Those I visited welcomed me with open arms and, although many had struggled in recent times, they were keen to make the new system work. And we need this system to work. A new RSPB report reveals a “lost decade” for British wildlife. Restorative land use takes time, so we really don’t have many more opportunities to get it right.

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The Fisheries Bill is at risk of harming the UK’s marine environment

This post is by Oliver Tanqueray, co-ordinator of the Sustainable Seafood Coalition in the UK.

Responsible businesses buy responsibly sourced seafood, but many UK fisheries don’t meet the sourcing standards of the country’s biggest buyers. That’s why the members of the Sustainable Seafood Coalition are desperate to see change. In a letter to government, leading supermarkets, brands and processors recently highlighted the importance of sustainable fishing limits, remote electronic monitoring of vessels and responsible management of shared stocks.

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Protecting landscapes is not the same as protecting nature

This post is by Jo Smith, CEO of the Derbyshire Wildlife Trust and Kate Jennings, head of site conservation policy at the RSPB.

The prime minister’s recent promise to protect 30 per cent of the UK’s land by 2030 is welcome as a vitally important contribution to the debate around reversing the loss of biodiversity and tackling the nature and climate crises (although it must have raised an eyebrow or two in the devolved administrations as the prime minister can only make this commitment for England).

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