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Wildlife and Countryside Link News

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

Sustainable Development Goals at the ELUK conference

On 3 October, Wildlife and Countryside Link hosted the biennial Environment Links UK (ELUK) Conference at Senate House in London. This year’s conference gave ELUK members the opportunity to explore how we can work effectively together, and with our Governments, to facilitate effective delivery of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) – particularly in the context of the UK’s exit from the European Union and the Voluntary National Review of progress to which UK Government is committed in 2019.

We were grateful to hear perspectives on SDG delivery in three of the four UK countries from Katriona Carmichael (Deputy Director, Environment and Land Use Strategy, Scottish Government), Marie Navarro (Director of Policy, Legislation and Innovation from the Office of the Future Generations Commissioner, Wales), and Emma Williams (Deputy Director, International Environment Strategy and Official Development Assistance, Defra). Delegates were also given an expert overview of five SDGs highly relevant to ELUK’s work from the UK Stakeholders for Sustainable Development (UK SSD), following their landmark report ‘Measuring Up’. The key themes that emerged from the event were: the need for effective communication and education; increasing our reach through connecting with sectors; ensuring our Governments deliver on home turf as well as internationally; and the role of NGOs in raising the profile of the SDGs so Governments are held to account on delivery.

See the day’s discussions at #ELUK2018.

Successful media coverage on a disappointing Budget

The Chancellor’s Budget speech this year was the most environmentally-disappointing for years. Expected announcements on plastics solutions were much weaker than expected, with a ‘latte levy’ rejected and a relatively unambitious tax on plastics which contain less than 30% recycled content. An announcement of £10 million for a tree-planting scheme and £50 million of carbon credits to be bought from woodland-planting landowners was also dwarfed by £30 billion of funds set aside for road projects.

Link coordinated a joint media response expressing a strong collective message of disappointment on the lack of any mention of climate change, no commitment to long-term sustainable farming funding and paltry pollution promises. The press release was well-received, alongside separate statements from members, and built upon successful media coverage that Link achieved with this approach last year.

Member coverage included: Press Association copy quoting the Woodland Trust, Link and Friends of the Earth; The Ecologist, quoting the Environmental Investigation Agency and Friends of the Earth; Business Green, quoting multiple members; quoting Marine Conservation Society, Woodland Trust, Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth; Independent quotes Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth; I daily news briefing, The Guardian, The Sun, Daily Mail, and The Week.

An excellent follow-up article in the I/Independent picked up multiple quotes and facts from our joint statement and also drew on separately released statements from members. Members quoted included: CPRE, RSPCA, EIA, the Wildlife Trusts, Greenpeace, and MCS and Link.

A step closer to a brighter future for farming

The Agriculture Bill has moved apace in October and, with our colleagues at Greener UK, we have worked tirelessly to defend the good and amend the bad in the Bill. Our briefing for second Reading recognises what is positive in the Bill – namely its focus on payment of public money for delivery of public goods – and sets out our priorities for amendments. These include enshrining duties in the Bill, not just powers; the need for a long-term funding settlement to give farmers confidence in the new scheme; the establishment of a regulatory baseline; and ensuring that payments to increase productivity do not undermine the delivery of public goods.

Vice-Chair of the of Link’s Agriculture Working Group Tom Lancaster (Principal Land Use Policy Officer, RSPB) gave evidence to the EFRA Committee on behalf of Link for its Agriculture Bill inquiry. We also submitted written evidence to the EFRA Committee, and to the Public Bill Committee on the Agriculture Bill (here). Link will continue to work in collaboration with partners across the sector as the Bill passes through Parliament to ensure it secures a bright future for both farming and the environment.

#ProtectWater campaign launched

In October, together with 100 organisations across Europe, Link launched the #ProtectWater campaign to defend the Water Framework Directive from being watered down. The European Commission has launched a public consultation and we are calling on people to ACT NOW to let the Government know we want to keep our water laws strong.
These important water laws have driven the most investment and effort seen within the last 15 years to improve our waters. However, this needs to be sustained and built upon to increase and maintain the number of our water bodies considered healthy. These water laws protect our waterways and commit to repairing damage by 2027. Weakening them would have a significant impact on our rivers, lakes and wetlands, and everything that depends on them.

The campaign has over 100,000 supporters across the EU already, but we need many more to protect our waters.

October blogs and publications

In October, Link members, alongside organisations across the EU, launched the #ProtectWater campaign to ensure our water laws are kept strong, telling our Governments that the Water Framework Directive is fit for purpose and must not be diluted. Hannah Freeman, Chair of the Blueprint for Water group and Senior Government Affairs Officer at WWT, explored the importance of clean water in beer production in her blog and together, we asked: Is dirty beer the future?

We urged the Chancellor, Philip Hammond, to get drastic on plastic in the Autumn budget and members faced disappointment at the lack of environment measures within the budget.

Other blogs and publications in October include using the customer’s voice as a tool to protect the environment from Dani Jordan, Water Policy Specialist at WWF, and our very own Head of Policy and Campaigns, Dan Pescod wrote about how a small project within his community is tackling social and environmental problems, one vegetable at a time.

Link also responded to trade consultations regarding the potential future relationship with the USA, New Zealand and Australia. Furthermore, Link worked with Greener UK on several publications in relation to the Agriculture Bill including submissions to the EFRA Committee, Public Bill Committee and a briefing on the Second Reading.

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

In October, Link published the following press releases, reports and consultation responses:

• Link response to Australia trade consultation
• Unbeerlieveable – is dirty beer the future?
• Gold standard environment pledge tarnished by lack of environmental budget measures
• Philip Hammond must get drastic on plastic in the budget
• Link response to New Zealand trade consultation
• The Customers voice as a tool to protect the environment
• Clean Water – the vital ingredient
• A drop in the ocean
• Greener UK and Link submission to Public Bill Committee on the Agriculture Bill
• Link EFRA Committee Agriculture Bill evidence
• Greener UK and Link Agriculture Bill 2nd reading briefing
• WCL Plastics Autumn Budget briefing • Link response to USA trade consultation

Join us at Link's AGM & Annual Debate

Link's AGM and Annual Debate will be held this year at the WWT London Wetland Centre on 4 December 2018. Members can reserve a place for the AGM here.

While the AGM is for Link members only, the Annual Debate is open to all.
This year, we will be debating the question: 'Are we just fiddling around the edges of environmental disaster? With a domino-effect towards hothouse earth on the horizon, how do we achieve the landmark shift necessary to transform our throwaway, nature-depleted and nature-disconnected culture?'

Our expert panel is all-female – to celebrate 100 years of women securing the right to vote -and comprises:

• Professor Gina Radford, Deputy Chief Medical Officer and leading expert on the relationship between the environment and health
• Mya-Rose Craig, 'AKA Birdgirl', outstanding youth and VME environment ambassador
• Professor Rosie Woodroffe, Senior Research Fellow at the Zoological Society of London and renowned wildlife expert
• Isabella Tree, Award-winning author, travel-writer and co-creator of the pioneering Knepp rewilding project

The debate will take place from 4-5.30pm, after which guests are invited to join us for a networking drinks reception until 7pm.

Reserve your place at Link’s Annual Debate here.

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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