This morning, the Environment Secretary George Eustice will give a major speech outlining his plans for how nature will be at the centre of the green recovery. This is an important moment for the UK Government to offer a clear vision for how they will restore nature in a generation.
To date, there have been mixed messages emerging from the UK government especially after the Prime Minister’s “build, build, build” speech last month which suggested that rules protecting wildlife were hampering our productivity and prosperity.
And there was more alarming news over the weekend suggesting that ministers were considering excluding free ports from wildlife protection legislation.
Yet, the press statement issued today poses more questions than answers. And this is why our Chief Executive, Beccy Speight has issued the following statement:
“The pandemic, caused by a zoonotic disease, has caused the biggest shock to our way of life since the second world war. Yet the government has to date failed to articulate how things need to radically change to help address this crisis and the urgent climate and ecological emergency. We need the Prime Minister and his cabinet to be bold and visionary, developing specific proposals to put nature at the heart of the recovery.
Today’s speech by Environment Secretary George Eustice once again fails to do that.
In their election manifesto, the Conservative Party promised world beating legislation that would establish an independent watchdog to replace the powers of the EU and set new, ambitious targets to help nature recover from its current disastrous condition. We were told reforms of the Common Agriculture Policy would drive billions of pounds of investment into nature-friendly farming.
So far none of these promises have been met and Mr Eustice has failed again to provide any detail of when and how these things will be delivered.
Instead we have a welcome but frankly tiny announcement of new money – well short of the investment that is needed – and a commitment to change the planning system where the purpose and details of that review remain opaque at best or frankly disingenuous.
Of course, any further protections for species are welcome, and we will work actively with the government to ensure that any new proposals do genuinely benefit nature. But we will need to see a step change in delivery before we are convinced that the government’s plans match its 'green' rhetoric.
We urge the UK Government to use this moment to reshape the economy for the long term. Resist temptation to deregulate to get a short term fix. Invest in the jobs and natural infrastructure which underpin our prosperity and create a more resilient economy that can withstand future shocks. Seize the moment and put nature at the heart of our economic recovery.”
Beccy will be on the panel debating the content of Mr Eustice’s speech and I am sure that she will be clearly stating what nature needs:
You can sign up to watch Mr Eustice's speech and the subsequent debate here.
*Image of little terns courtesy of Kevin Simmonds (rspb-images.com)
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