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Wildlife and Countryside Link News

Welcome to Link’s news - a roundup of what's happened in August. For updates from our working groups, please go to the policy hub. If you would like to submit news items for our monthly e-bulletin, please contact Jodie Le Marquand. To subscribe please enter your email at the bottom of the page.

August Top stories

Oversimplifying planning system

The Government has published a White Paper on planning reform, proposing three new development “zones”: growth, renewal and protection. It has also set out its intention to consult further on changes to environmental planning rules such as Environmental Impact Assessment and Strategic Environmental Assessment later this year.

Our initial assessment is that the proposals pose considerable risk to the environment and would miss the opportunity to integrate the objectives of the 25 Year Environment Plan at a more strategic level. The forthcoming consultation on EIA and SEA risks weakening the protection put in place by the Birds and Habitats Directives. We have written to Robert Jenrick to propose a more integrated approach.

Anti-racism and diversity statement

Many thanks to everyone who has signed our joint anti-racism and diversity statement, developed by the Link Equality, Diversity and Inclusion group, which has now been published on our website.

The group has set up an anti-racism training session and we will aim to provide further sessions in future. It is working on a proposal for a sector benchmarking report in collaboration with Natural England and on plans for a peer support network to be launched later this year.

Water Framework Directive

Sir James Bevan’s speech on regulation referenced the possibility of “thoughtful reform” of the Water Framework Directive. In response, Link members wrote to Sir James to underline the importance of the “one out all out” reporting system for the freshwater environment. We recognise some limitations of the Directive with regard to recognising progress in water quality, but argue that the best solution is to add to the WFD system with objectives for clean waters and by monitoring small water bodies. Deconstructing the EU system of water quality monitoring would be a serious regression of EU standards.


This month, Link celebrated Environmental Information week, publishing a series of blogs demonstrating the importance of environmental data. Jo Judge, CEO of the National Biodiversity Network, kicked things off with a blog on the need for high quality environmental data to underpin the recovery of nature. Steve Whitbread and Tom Hunt, used their blog to set out why the Environment Bill needs to be supported by effective information provision, and local-to-national integration. Whereas, Jodie Le Marquand, Link’s Information & Policy Coordinator highlighted the missing water data that's hindering efforts to improve the health of England’s waters.

Other blogs included Toos van Noordwijk, Director of Science, Policy and Innovation at Earthwatch Europe highlighting the importance of citizen science to the environment and Sarah Lawfull and Sara Collins of the Nature Premium campaign making the case for a Nature Premium to fund regular nature experiences for every child.

Other blogs, publications and press releases this month include:
To create change, we need to reach hearts and minds, citizen science is best placed to do so
A Nature premium would help children recover from lockdown
Going for bold!
Our Climate Change Act moment: targets for nature
To improve water quality, we need high quality environmental data
Democratising the environment – access to information at its core
Meet biodiversity monitoring needs
The importance of setting standards for Environment Bill delivery
Using data to conserve species – what we have learned from newt counting
The importance of species status data in developing plans
The Environment Bill: the importance of environmental information
A National Nature Service
Planning for Nature
Oversimplifying the planning system could speed up nature's decline
Blueprint letter to James Bevan - WFD
Link and Aldersgate Group letter - planning reform
Link Diversity and Anti-Racism Statement
HM Treasury Plastic Packaging Tax consultation response
Link Letter to the Chancellor: National Nature Service
Greening the post-Covid recovery inquiry - Link submission 13.08.2020
UK Internal Market - WCL submission

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