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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.

October Top Stories

Government remain unable to report on the extent of wildlife crime

Link’s Wildlife Crime working group launched their annual report this month, the third of its kind. Reports of wildlife crime were up 17% since we launched our first report in 2016. Yet Government remain unable to produce information on the prevalence of offending or the location of hotspots. Trends in criminality cannot therefore be identified, undermining action.

We launched this report in parliament with an event hosted by Kerry McCarthy MP and were joined by a cross-party group of MPs & peers to discuss our findings and to push for our main asks:

• Make all wildlife crime recordable. Without proper recording, we are unable to recognise trends in wildlife crime and develop appropriate strategy to tackle it. We ask that the police, Defra and the Home Office work together to introduce a range of specific codes to ensure effective recording and interpretation of wildlife crime data.
• Permanently fund the National Wildlife Crime Unit. There must be long-term funding for the NWCU that allows for the expansion needed to adequately address identified and emerging threats.
• Produce annual reports. Defra and the Welsh Government should produce their own annual wildlife crime reports.
• Raise awareness of wildlife crime. The NPCC wildlife crime strategy identifies the need to raise awareness of wildlife crime. Utilisation of a “wildlife crime app” as adopted in Scotland, is one way to raise awareness and make reporting easier.

EAC calls Government out on failing invasive species policy

The EAC has published the final report of its invasive species inquiry which, among other things, calls for a tripling of the invasive species budget and a ‘citizens army’ of 1.3 million volunteers to act as our frontline of defence. Link warmly welcomed the Committee’s recommendations, many of which we have campaigned on for some time. The Committee also echoed Link’s calls for the creation of an invasive species inspectorate, as exists for all other areas of animal and plant health, which would bring our biosecurity up to scratch and slow the tide of new species establishing. After the election, we will being pushing Defra and the Treasury to heed these calls and use the Spending Review 2020 to make these changes that are so urgently needed. Link’s Policy and Campaigns Manager Zoe Davies also wrote a blog in response to the Committee’s report.

Environment Bill

On 15th October the Government introduced its long-awaited environment bill into parliament. Among other things, the Bill obliges Government to set and meet legally binding targets for air, water, waste and wildlife. Link welcomed this most significant step towards planning properly to restore nature for future generations. However, the bill would need significant strengthening in many areas to be really effective. For instance, it must ensure legally binding interim, not just long-term, targets to start turning nature around now. There must also be a sufficient number of targets across a range of areas to deal with the environmental crisis we face, with policies designed to meet them. As we head towards an election, Link will press all parties to commit to new environmental legislation with comprehensive and effective legally-binding targets and we will work with Defra to help address the weaknesses in the current bill.

October blogs and publications

In October, Link published a blog by Adam Grogan, RSPCA, explaining the complicated issue of Bovine TB and why there is no one, simple solution in his blog, ‘It’s not all black and white’. Dominic Dyer of Badger Trust draws to our attention Defra’s announcement of 11 new badger cull licences and the extension of cull zones, the largest destruction of a protected species in living memory.

The Environmental Audit Committee (EAC) published the final report of its invasive species inquiry. In light of this publication, Zoe Davies, Policy and Campaigns Manger at Link, uses her blog to examine why the Committee has been so critical of the Government’s invasive species controls, and what needs to be done to build up our lines of defence.

Other blogs include Richard Benwell, Link’s CEO detailing what to watch out for in the Queen’s speech and Alastair Driver from Rewilding Britain highlighting an important parliamentary debate on nature restoration as a way to respond to the climate emergency.

This month, Link published the following blogs, press releases and responses:
• Resounding support for tripling the UK budget for defences against ‘nature invaders’
• Reports of crimes against wildlife continue to rise, reveals third annual wildlife crime report
• Annual Wildlife Crime Report 2018
• Queen’s speech 2019: A welcome injection of ambition, but a long way to go to get nature off the critical list
• Treasury must treat invasive species like the ticking time bomb they are
• Parliamentary event on massive scale nature restoration to help stop climate breakdown
• Government remain unable to report on wildlife crime
• Brexit deregulatory power grab tucked into Environment Bill
• Environment Bill: Praise today, Raise Ambition tomorrow
• The largest destruction of a protected species in living memory
• Bovine TB – it’s not all black and white
• Blueprint response to Defra water consumption consultation
• Queen’s speech – twelve words to watch for
• Brexit and the precautionary principle
• Why we should #makefoodkinder for animals and the planet
• Link response to standards for bio-based plastics call for evidence

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

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