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Wildlife and Countryside Link News

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

June top stories

Seas our future

In May, UK Governments announced they were failing to deliver on their collective promises of achieving healthy seas. With their own reports stating only 4 out of 15 indicators had been met, Link’s Marine Group and Environment Links UK have been busy holding UK Governments’ feet to the fire. Together, we have developed the Seas Our Future campaign, calling for a stronger, more ambitious UK Marine Strategy to turn the tide for our seas. In June, this involved publishing a joint letter in the Guardian, supported by 24 UK organisations, demanding a step-change in ambition from UK Governments. Despite being given just 6 weeks to respond to the consultation, the Groups have now submitted their response and hope to continue engaging with UK Governments to develop this work over the coming months.

Putting our eggs in a better basket: a survey of English farmers’ opinions on agriculture policy

Link published a landmark piece of research in June which showed that, despite often being framed as sitting on opposite sides of the fence, farmers and conservationists are largely on the same page about the direction of future farming policy. The research is a clear call to government to deliver an ambitious Agriculture Bill and future policy that ensures farming and nature survive and thrive.

Link’s report “Putting our eggs in a better basket: A survey of English farmers’ opinions on agriculture policy” shows that 80% of farmers believe the health of the natural environment is important or very important for their farm business. Furthermore, half (50%) of farmers agree with the principle of ‘public money for public goods’ (one third are neutral, and one in five disagree with the principle), and two thirds of farmers say regulation is important or very important to protect standards in the farming industry. Increased weather volatility, e.g. flood and drought caused by climate change, is the second most commonly reported problem facing farmers (affecting 40%), second only to increased costs and reduced profit margins (affecting 51%). Farmers cite lack of access to capital and uncertainty caused by Brexit as by far the biggest barriers to making environmental and other improvements to their farm business.

Helen Chesshire, Senior Farming Advisor at Woodland Trust and Chair of Wildlife and Countryside Link’s Agriculture Group, was interviewed by Charlotte Smith on Farming Today about the research (listen from 07m55s). The story will also be covered extensively in farming and environmental trade press including Farmers Weekly, Farmers Guardian, Farm Business, Country Smallholding, Smallholder, South West Farmer, Sustainable Farming, Agronomist and Arable Farmer, Vegetable Farmer, and the Water Report magazines.

What did the law ever do for us?

Have you ever thought of using the law to fight for our environment, but did not know where to start? On 5th June, Legal firm Leigh Day kindly hosted a very well-attended Link Legal Strategy Group workshop on the use of legal tools in campaigning and policy work. Top experts from environmental organisations, law firms and NGOs explained their work. The session demystified the judicial review process, explaning how it has applied to such matters as fighting Heathrow expansion and challenging NE bird killing licenses. We heard about the uses of the Arhus Convention and the environmental information regulations. The event also had a session on crowdfunding for legal work, and another on how the promised new green watchdog the “Office for Environmental Protection” could be made effective.

We are pleased to have had good feedback from the event, and are considering follow-up workshops in the near future to further help those to want to fight for our environment at this crucial time.

Goodbye from Elaine

The end of June sees us saying goodbye to Dr Elaine King, Link’s Director. Elaine is moving on to ‘landscapes new’ and her farewell message is below.

"With less than a week before I switch off my Link computer for the last time, our e-bulletin for June gives me an opportunity to say thank you, though hopefully not goodbye.

After almost eight years at Link, I am inevitably very sad to leave. It’s been such a great privilege to work with so many knowledgeable, passionate and warm-hearted people. This includes - of course - my staff team, Link’s board of trustees, our member organisations, our funders and the wide range of people and organisations with whom we work. Many of you have become friends and it’s been a priviledge to be a part of such a powerful movement for good.

Fortunately, I will be staying in the sector, joining the Chilterns Conservation Board as its new Chief Executive. I live in the Chilterns and am a Secretary of State appointee on the Board. I couldn’t pass up this exciting opportunity, especially as we embark on delivering an ambitious five year Management Plan for the Chilterns AONB, and with major change afoot with the Glover Review of protected landscapes. The new role will also bring huge benefits for me personally. I will have a short drive to work and be more available for my two boys.

So, I am sure my leaving Link isn’t goodbye, but rather an opportunity to collaborate some more, and I look forward to working with many of you in my new role!"

June blogs & publications

This month, Link members continue to urge the Government to get drastic on plastic and protect our seas! The marine working group wrote a letter to the UK Government calling on them to “Seas Our Future” and Sarah Denman, UK Environment Lawyer at Client Earth, used her blog to urge Government to make fisheries truly sustainable!

Helen Chesshire, Senior Farming Advisor at Woodland Trust and Chair of Wildlife and Countryside Link’s Agriculture Group, wrote about Link’s landmark new research which clearly shows that farmers and conservationists want a future farming policy that allows both farming and nature to survive and thrive.

In other news, Link members Salmon & Trout Conservation released their riverfly census; a 3 three year, 12 river survey completed by a professional entomologist, where aquatic invertebrates were collected and analysed to species-level. Lauren Mattingely, Science Officer, penned a blog for Link on their #SmartRivers initiative, 'going the extra mile for monitoring', to gain a greater understanding of our rivers and the problems they face.

Other blogs and publications include the Blueprint for Water group Chairs’ letter to Customer Challenge Groups, urging them to keep a focus on the the water environment, and Jenny Hawley, Senior Policy Officer at Plantlife, highlighting the need for urgent action to cut air pollution from farming for healthy wildlife and healthy people.

In June, Link published the following press releases, reports and consultation responses:
• Putting our eggs in a better basket: A survey of English farmers’ opinions on agriculture policy
• Farmers and conservationists on the same page about a brighter farming future
• Saving the environment is more important to farmers than subsidising food productivity
• Take action for wildlife on clean air day
• Marine litter: do something drastic, cut the plastic!
• A letter calling on UK Governments to Seas Our Future
• The battle of contaminated UK seas that still has not been won
• Future of UK sea birds on a cliff edge
• Going the extra mile for monitoring
• UK Governments must seize opportunity to make fisheries truly sustainable
• Auditing Defra’s future farming programme: a crucial moment for farming and nature
• Safeguarding our seafloors
• Letter to Customer Challenge Groups from Blueprint Chairs

We welcome blogs from Link members and others. To contribute a blog for the Link website, please contact Emma Adler, Link’s Communications Manager.

Follow Link on LinkedIn and Twitter

Link has a presence on the professional networking site LinkedIn, which includes updates on our blogs, news alerts and job opportunities. Take a look at our page and follow us to keep up to date with our work.

The Link team also regularly tweets news and comment on Twitter, as does Link’s Director, Elaine King.

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