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News for January 2017

Oxford Real Farming Conference

On 5 January, Link joined up with the Woodland Trust and CPRE to host a panel debate at the Oxford Real Farming Conference. Using the themes laid out in Link’s vision Farming Fit for the Future as a basis for discussion, the debate intended to build momentum behind a farming policy that supports both people and nature. The debate brought together representatives from across the farming sector to explore the challenges and opportunities in developing a healthy natural environment that can be enjoyed by all and that protects the livelihoods of farmers. Shaun Spiers, Chief Executive at CPRE, chaired the event and Hannah Freeman, from the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust, represented the Link Agriculture Group on the panel. A round-up of the conference and Link’s session can be found in Harry Greenfield’s blog.

Advocating for a planning system that enriches communities and wildlife

While the Neighbourhood Planning Bill continues its passage through Parliament, members of Link’s Land Use Planning Group have been advocating for policies that offer more certainty to communities, protect the environment and prevent delays in the planning system. Group members have met with Peers to discuss their concerns around clause 12 of the Bill, which could constrain the ability of local authorities to use pre-commencement conditions to protect our natural and historic environment. Concerns on this clause have been voiced by a range of organisations and cross-party parliamentarians. This week, Link published a blog on the Bill by Ruth Chambers, a member of Link’s Land Use Planning Group. Ruth reflects the views of many Link members and other organisations, in calling on the Government to amend this clause and ensure that local planning authorities retain their ability to manage development from the start through to the end of the planning process.

January blogs

This month’s blogs showcased Link’s presence at the Oxford Real farming Conference (ORFC); called for environmental laws to be reinforced rather than reviewed; and stressed the need for tougher sentencing for wildlife trade crimes. Harry Greenfield, Land Use Policy Officer at the RSPB, set out a vision for farming after attending the ORFC which emphasised the importance of building alliances between environmental NGOs and farmers. The Prime Minister’s Brexit speech, earlier this month, presented Richard Benwell – Head of Government Affairs at the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust – with an opportunity to reflect that ‘now we know that “hard Brexit” is on the negotiating table, the prospect of a radical review of environmental policy could put the whole gamut of EU environmental rules at risk.’ Richard went on to make the case that such a review would be a waste. And, as illegal wildlife trading continues to be a hot topic, WWF’s Niki Rust said that it is time for sentencing guidelines to be created to ensure that penalties reflect the significant impact of the crimes on endangered species. Two blogs were also published by the Blueprint for Water Group covering the Government’s recent response to an inquiry on future flood prevention, and the importance of managing and preventing floods naturally.

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