This post is by Fiona Howie, chief executive of the Campaign for National Parks
Following the launch of the government’s review of designated landscapes, and controversy around the subsequent resignation of James Rebanks from the advisory panel, the issue of farming and nature within the National Parks is once again back on the agenda. Read more
This 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.
The right of UK citizens to breathe clean air is routinely violated. In 2018, air pollution in London exceeded the legal limit for the entire year before the end of January. Across the country, toxic air is linked to 40,000 premature deaths each year. And this is not a recent phenomenon. The air in London and most urban areas in the UK has been illegally polluted since 2010.
New Year articles and blogs often predict what is going to happen in the year ahead. But after the political upsets of the past couple years, it seems more appropriate to pose questions than predict outcomes. So here are some of the important questions that need addressing this year, starting, inevitably, with Brexit.
UK farming is in crisis. Forty per cent of farms make no profit. Farm debt is soaring. Farmers are taking home an ever decreasing share of what we spend on food and, over the long term, food prices have been dropping.
Many farmers are stuck in a cycle of working the land ever harder just to break even. This is taking a heavy toll on the asset that farming relies on most of all – nature – as regular reports from the State of Nature partnership and the Natural Capital Committee make clear.
This post is by Richard Benwell, head of government affairs at WWT.
A hung parliament, with a packed legislative agenda, blank slate of policy and limited time on the Brexit countdown clock: these are good conditions for great environmental accomplishments. Without a commanding majority, the government will need to search for areas of political unity to build political capital, like the environment. Read more
Since 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.
This 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.
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.
The environment community is in shock. Forty years of environmental agreements with our neighbours are now threatened by a vote in which the environment didn’t feature. The electorate voted by a small margin to build higher walls, but walls don’t work in the natural world. Within the next two years we will lose the best enforced nature laws in the world, which the UK did so much to help create. Read more