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.
Government spending on flood protection in England is fast approaching £1 billion a year. Yet homes and businesses, railways and roads, bridges and power infrastructure are increasingly being damaged or destroyed by devastating floods. Read more
As the UK heads to the polls once more, there’s something different this time round. In previous elections, climate change barely got any airtime. Now, as poll after poll shows that people want action, politicians are talking about the climate crisis, and offering voters their prescriptions for action. Read more
For farmers, change is a way of life. Weather is unpredictable. Consumer appetites change. Prices go up and down. Managing uncertainty and volatility goes with the job.
But the ability of farmers to keep bouncing back will soon be tested to its limits, and possibly beyond. Brexit will bring change of a scale and at a speed that will dwarf anything seen by the current generation of farmers. This could include changes to the availability and cost of labour, the size and terms of subsidy payments, the potential imposition of new import and export tariffs and, should certain trade deals be struck, increased competition from low cost food imports. Not all farmers will cope. Many are likely to fail. Read more
This post is by Daniel Johns, head of adaptation at the Committee on Climate Change.
Over centuries our communities have developed around rivers, to ensure easy access to water for use by populations, industry and for navigation. At the same time, landowners have straightened and dredged rivers, drained their land and removed natural features, aiming to raise agricultural output and get excess water away downstream as quickly as possible. But, in recent years, we have seen time and again the enormous cost of too much water at once flowing into our heavily populated floodplains, despite the billions spent by the government on flood defences. Read more
It’s heretical for a think tank to admit this, but our latest big idea is not really that big. It is in fact medium sized and achievable step from where we are now. It’s an idea so obvious, that once you hear it, you’ll be surprised it’s not happening already. But it isn’t, we checked. Rather than coming up with another big idea for nature, Green Alliance, in partnership with the National Trust, has researched how to enable existing big ideas, around ecosystem services and natural capital, to translate into real changes on the ground. The result is the Natural Infrastructure Scheme (NIS), a new market mechanism which would mean farmers and other land managers could financially benefit from environmental improvements such as flood alleviation and habitat creation. We think its simplicity could lead to ‘payments for ecosystem services’ becoming a mainstream market, reversing declines in nature, and supporting new, environmentally beneficial approaches to farming in the UK.
This post is by Richard Benwell, head of government affairs at the Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust.
The Greener London report, published last week, is an excellent menu of options for making our capital cleaner, safer and more biodiverse. And, at the Greener London hustings on Friday, we saw mayoral candidates vie with one another over a wide selection of ideas, and over who would commit to finish them faster: Read more
This 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
This is a guest post by Erik Bichard, Professor of Regeneration and Sustainable Development at the University of Salford.
The press release announcing the launch of the Green Deal in September last year contained an astonishing statement. It said that every one of the UK’s 26 million homes could benefit in some way from improvements to insulations, lighting, space and water heating, ventilation, and microgenenration. After decades of government efforts exhorting householders to take action, it appears that virtually none had taken the advice and finished the job.
As a statement of a potential market capacity this is impressive, but if the government expects to realise even a small portion of this in terms of take-up it may be disappointed unless it adopts lessons from behavioural studies. Read more