Tag Archives: Defra

Why does Michael Gove want to treat farmers and water companies differently?

gove smallMichael Gove was in pugnacious form in his address to last week’s annual Water UK City Conference. Pulling no punches, his subjects included water company abuse of monopoly power, the use of offshore companies and complex financial engineering, and the privileging of shareholders at the expense of the UK’s billpayers, taxpayers and the environment. It would be no surprise if, in the aftermath, a number of bruised industry executives were tempted to beat a retreat to their Cayman Island offices so criticised by Gove. Read more

The prime minister’s environment speech must herald a shift to restore nature

35894018871_3a2b1e0cdb_bTomorrow, Theresa May will deliver a major speech on the environment, it will be the first keynote environment speech delivered by a British prime minister since Tony Blair did so in 2000. David Cameron might have hugged huskies in the Arctic but, in practice, the environment as a whole was not a top priority for him (although he did address the UN on climate and gave a small speech on energy efficiency). Blair also delivered a major speech specifically on climate in 2004.

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How to improve the balance between UK nature conservation and food production

Eurasian skylark. Skylark seated in a rape field.This post is by Claire Feniuk, land use policy officer at the RSPB.

If Brexit has taught us anything, it’s that people don’t like compromise, they really much prefer to have their cake and eat it. This week, I was invited to join a panel discussion at a Defra Evidence event hosted by the Royal Society, to give my thoughts on the trade-offs between nature conservation and food production. Read more

Is business deregulation putting environmental safeguards at risk?

big ben and tree

This post is by Donal McCarthy, an economist at the RSPB with a special interest in regulatory reform and its implications for the environment. He recently co-authored a report assessing the performance of voluntary (ie self-regulatory or co-regulatory) alternatives to regulation in delivering on public policy objectives.

Over recent years, political concerns about the costs of regulation to business have risen in prominence, with accusations that rules, such as those protecting rare species and habitats, are placing ridiculous costs on business and the wider economy.

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Boris’s big failure: why is London still killing its citizens?

Emissions of a starting diesel engineA little over five years ago, my daughter was born in central London, in an area where the nearest air quality monitoring station recorded particulates as having reached dangerous levels 55 times that year. When 35 bad days are exceeded, the UK falls foul of European air rules, which means it faces court cases and fines until the problem is rectified. Read more

The story of the voles, the ditch and the prime minister

A little wild water vole eating some juicy blackberries looking at the cameraThis post is by conservationist and blogger Miles King. A version first appeared on his blog.

Those who believe that nature is important and that, for it to be better protected from the activities of people, the best approach is to gather evidence – scientific evidence – analyse it and present it to those in power, should heed this story. Read more

The plan to tackle UK air pollution won’t be enough to protect health

air pollution over LondonThis post is by Professor Martin Williams of the Environmental Research Group at King’s College London. He was previously chairman of the Executive Body of the UNECE Convention on Long Range Transboundary Air Pollution.

At this time of year it’s customary to present awards for achievements over the previous year. If there was an award for Air Pollutant of the Year then nitrogen dioxide would surely win. Read more

Why government spending decisions need to account for nature

lapwing - credit marie haleThis post is by Richard Benwell,  parliamentary programme manager at RSPB and director of communications at Westmill Solar Co-operative.

If you’ve been following the to and fro of international financial markets over recent weeks, like me you might have been amazed by how ephemeral and unpredictable financial wealth can be. Not so the economic wealth that underlies those markets. While trade, production and employment are influenced by turns of confidence, and even luck, they all depend on people and assets. Read more

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