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Response to George Eustice’s Green Alliance Speech

20 July 2020

Wildlife and Countryside Link has responded to the speech DEFRA Secretary of State George Eustice gave at Green Alliance today.

Richard Benwell, CEO at Wildlife and Countryside Link, said:

''We welcome the Secretary of State’s acknowledgement that nature must play a central role in the Covid-19 recovery and that he would like to “see more ecologists in the room” as part of a data-driven approach to environmental improvement.

'The announcement of a £5 million pilot for new Natural Capital and Ecosystem Assessments is positive, especially if it is combined with more funding for ecologists, ecological record centres, and environmental planners across the country.

'But better data must complement strong laws and environmental planning procedures, not replace them. When the Environment Bill returns to Parliament, its existing provisions on planning should be strengthened, with major infrastructure included in net gain and Local Nature Recovery Strategies linked to planning and spending decisions. It should not be used as a vehicle for powers to weaken existing planning laws, such as Environmental Impact Assessment.

'Strong laws must be matched by appropriate funding. So far, the Government’s investment in green recovery has been orders of magnitude below the scale needed for a truly green recovery. We look forward to substantially more investment in habitats, species and green jobs for nature’s improvement in the Budget and Spending Review.''

ENDS

Notes to editors:

1. Wildlife and Countryside Link is the largest environment and wildlife coalition in England, bringing together 57 organisations to use their strong joint voice for the protection of nature. Our members campaign to conserve, enhance and access our landscapes, animals, plants, habitats, rivers and seas. Together we have the support of over eight million people in the UK and directly protect over 750,000 hectares of land and 800 miles of coastline.