The UK Government’s deregulation agenda is dangerous and puts the most basic laws protecting wildlife at risk. The first prong of their three-part attack was setting out plans to amend or scrap crucial environmental laws like the Habitat Regulations. This would be devastating news on its own, but further announcements of the intention of creating a minimum of 38 ‘Investment Zones’ and reviewing plans to support the new Environmental Land Management Schemes (ELMS) were also announced.
I encourage you to read as much as you can about the subject and then get in touch with your local councillor and MP. These are unprecedented times, if there was ever a time to raise your voice and shout that this isn’t good enough it’s now! This is my letter.
I’m writing to you, as I hope many others have, to raise my voice and express how disappointed I am in the Governments announcements over the past weeks and their complete disregard for nature. The state of our economy is quite rightfully hitting the headlines, but it’s not just the pound that’s being battered.
I feel incredibly fortunate to have grown up in The Cotswolds and have nature on my doorstep. This county is incredibly diverse and outstandingly beautiful, from ancient woodlands and species-rich grasslands to an internationally important estuary and wild heathlands (a habitat that is rarer than rainforest by the way!). To think of this being under even more strain breaks my heart.
Given the climate and nature emergencies we are facing, the 25-Year Environment Plan and the Environment and Agriculture Acts were a step in the right direction and it felt like nature was finally on its way to being a priority – unfortunately, this is clearly no longer the case.
The fact that the Government say that the UK has “the most ambitious environmental programme of any country on earth” is laughable. With COP15 only a few months away, we need to turn things around to be able to say with confidence and honesty that we are on track to net zero, to deliver biodiversity net gain goals and to see 30% of land and sea protected by 2030.
The recent announcements encouraging planning and ‘investment zones’ threatens to weaken protections that safeguard our already beleaguered wildlife and wild places. These are the most basic protections that we’ve relied upon for years, and removing them will mean our wildlife will struggle more than ever.
Our Government is dismissing environmental protections as ‘burdens’ and hindering economic growth, yet our economy depends upon everything that nature provides – from clean air and water to producing food and more. It’s time we stop pretending that a healthy environment is an optional extra and admit that we can’t survive in a world without it.
Being out in nature has a hugely positive impact on people’s wellbeing and mental health which is more important than ever after the pandemic and the recession we find ourselves in. We need to increase accessibility to and investment in green spaces, not building on them.
Over 70% of Gloucestershire is farmland. Farmers could be treated as champions for nature and key players in turning around wildlife declines, yet schemes and funds that would support them are potentially being scrapped. Returning to an agricultural system where farmers are paid with taxpayers’ money based on how much land they own is unfair and unsustainable.
In the 1970’s the UK had a reputation for being the ‘dirty man of Europe’. The laws that helped to clean up our waterways and force companies to do better for nature are the ones under threat and we just can’t afford to lose them.
The weakening of vital environmental protections is a U-turn on the promise to “build back green”, which the Government has no mandate to do. If retained EU legislation is replaced with weaker alternatives, our natural environment will be left unprotected from those who prioritise profit over protecting the planet.
We have to stand up and raise our voices to express that this isn’t good enough, as wildlife isn’t able to.
Please do all you can to put a stop to the UK Government’s attack on nature. I look forward to hearing from you.