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Wildlife and Countryside Link News

Welcome to Link’s news - a roundup of what happened in the last month. 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

World Oceans Day

The Marine Group celebrated World Oceans Day on June 8th with a webinar, in partnership with the Ocean Conservation All Party Parliamentary Group, to launch their new ocean recovery manifesto detailing a vision for restoring our seas by 2030. Our expert panel from MCS, WWF, Whales and Dolphin Conservation and Surfers Against Sewage was joined by Minister Rebecca Pow, Rt Hon Richard Benyon and Cherilyn Mackrory MP to discuss how we can ensure a blue recovery post covid-19 and beyond. Over 200 people, including a number of MPs, joined this virtual roundtable to hear about how Highly Protected Marine Areas can help restore our seas, the Environment Bill can be used to set a duty for ocean recovery and how we need to protect our blue carbon sinks if we’re to tackle the climate and nature crises. Read all about it in this summary blog and catch some highlights on Twitter here. The Group also launched the #OceanDreaming photo competition to encourage members of the public to share their favourite seaside photos whilst less able to visit the coast in lockdown. Entrants could win a plastic free hamper, print, refillable bottle and on the go cutlery set. You can enter here until 11:59 on 8th July.

Green Recovery/National Nature Service

There was much to be concerned about in the Prime Minister’s speech today, with forewarnings of deregulation and infrastructure investment aplenty. In the days ahead, we will be working with partners to oppose “Project Speed” proposals that might threaten nature.

On the positive side, the Prime Minister’s announcement included a £40 million competitive fund for nature, based on our project compendium proposals. In common with all of the funding announced today, this isn’t “new” money; it’s money brought forward from the Nature Fund and the Nature for Climate Fund, but it is helpful that the money will be available quickly.

We understand that the delivery partner for the fund will be decided within government in the next few days, and this will be followed rapidly by a competitive process for allocating the money. DEFRA have advised that members “dust off” the proposals in the compendium and that they will be looking for evidence of environmental effectiveness and jobs. The criteria for the fund allocation are likely to be similar to the criteria we included in our compendium.

So, although there are clearly some very serious risks ahead, we’d like to thank you again for all you have done to support this element of a green recovery. In a speech otherwise bereft of environmental positives, it is good to have secured a commitment for investment in the natural world. We will update you on the process for applying for the funds as soon as we can.

Why we need to change course to help save our water environment

All life depends entirely on water. Yet, reflecting broader climate and ecological crises, the current state of England’s water environment is poor and declining. We go from floods to drought without a long-term strategic plan to adapt to and manage new climatic extremes – urgent action is needed.

In June, Blueprint for Water published a report on how the ambitions of the 25 Year Environment Plan can be realised through action on improving protections for freshwater. The report included 8 key strategic recommendations including:

  • Treble the funding for the Catchment Based Approach (CaBA), including for local Catchment Partnerships, providing funds on a multi-year basis
  • Improve water security through delivery of abstraction reform by 2021, introduction of water efficiency targets in the Environment Bill and requirements for water efficient development in the Future Homes Standards
  • Require water companies to spend much of their £1bn annual National Environment Programme on nature-based solutions for people and nature

Read the full report and our 8 strategic asks here

June blogs & publications

Throughout June we had a large number of blogs. Many made reference to Link’s call for a Green recovery. Including, ensuring it considers resources and waste, making it a green, refillable recovery. Cecily, Marine Policy & Campaigns Manager at Link, used her blog to detail how we can build back better by creating a circular economy and reducing environmental harm.

In order to help support the recovery and match the rhetoric with genuine action, Carmel Edwards, Senior Policy Officer at RSPB, called on Government to support a National Nature Recovery Service. This is a scheme that will create tens of thousands of jobs, improve the health of nature, people and the planet, and contribute to a green, sustainable recovery. Finally, when the Prime Minister made his sorely anticipated speech, Link expressed disappointment. Richard Benwell, CEO at Wildlife and Countryside Link, reflected on the Prime Ministers 'New Deal' promises and it's lack of love for nature in his blog: More Haste, Less Project Speed.

Other blogs and publications this month include:

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