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Wildlife and Countryside Link News

Welcome to Link’s news - a roundup of what's happened in July. 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.

July Top stories

Project speed

In a briefing issued on 22 July, Wildlife and Countryside Link highlighted concerns about the current focus of the Government’s ‘project speed’, and set out an alternative approach.

In his Dudley Speech on 30 June, the Prime Minister suggested that ‘newt counting’ was holding back development and pledged a project speed to ‘build better, build greener and build faster’.

The Link paper presents evidence showing that environmental protections (including those covering newts) are not a delay on building and highlights how their removal could undermine the very purpose of planning – the creation of healthy, sustainable communities and environments. The paper goes on to demonstrate how the provision of better environmental data and specialist expertise in planning could better achieve the Prime Minister’s goal of building better, greener and faster.

The briefing, supported by 16 Link member organisations, can be found here.

Trees webinar

The England Tree Strategy consultation was launched last month, inviting views on proposals to increase tree planting in England.

Link members have huge experience in woodland creation and management, and we were pleased to hold an online webinar on 28 July to feed this experience and expertise into the consideration of the Strategy. Our expert panel discussed tree planting opportunities and challenges in depth, along with a range of questions about the potential for growth in overall woodland cover.

A full write up of the event, and the views expressed during it, can be found here.

Naturally resilient

This month, Blueprint for Water publishes its ‘Naturally Resilient’ report, jointly coordinated and funded by water companies and the Environment Agency.

The water sector is critically dependent on the resilience of the natural environment and the resilience of the water environment depends on sustainable activities from water-dependent sector. This interdependency between sectors has become increasingly evident in recent years, particularly given the growing recognition that we are in a climate and biodiversity emergency. However despite this, a clear definition and metrics have yet to be established.

The report examines how a ‘naturally resilient’ approach can be embedded into policy and plans and makes key recommendations including agreeing cross-sector metrics and working with land managers and the housing sector to specify measures to improve environmental resilience.

We will be engaging further with key stakeholders to embed ‘natural resilience’ as a key factor within policy and business planning.

July Blogs

Mark Simmonds, Senior Marine Scientist at Humane Society International reports on international whaling in the time of covid-19.

In further cetacean news, Link’s bycatch working group report a real win as the EU takes the first steps towards legal action against France, Spain and Sweden unless they take immediate action to stop dolphins and porpoises dying in their fishing gear, the biggest killer of dolphins and porpoises in the seas of Europe. Read Sarah Dolman, Whale & Dolphin Conservation’s blog for more details.

Other blogs include colleagues from RSPB and WWF-UK investigating the need for urgent action from the UK to reduce its global impact, with calls on the government to establish a mandatory due diligence obligation on businesses and financial institutions through the Environment Bill, and Andy Lester from A Rocha UK, reflecting on the resilience of nature and the glimmers of hope for the future in his blog ‘Resilience and Hope’.

Other blogs, publications and press releases this month include:
The EU gets tough on dolphin deaths
Link response to the freeports consultation
GUK-Link Agriculture Bill Committee stage briefing
The England Tree Strategy – a new start?
Riskier Business
Resilience and hope
Who should pay more to restore nature?
Whaling in the time of covid-19
Newts and project speed
More haste, less project speed
Project speed – Link briefing
Calls for Project speed to take a different direction
Response to George Eustice’s Green Alliance speech

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