The BBC reports an extra 400,000 hectares of English countryside will be protected to support the recovery of nature under plans to be announced by Boris Johnson.
The prime minister will make the commitment at a virtual United Nations event later. He is joining a global pledge from 65 leaders to reverse losses in the natural world by the same date.
National parks, areas of outstanding natural beauty and other protected areas make up 26% of land in England. Mr Johnson will promise that the government will increase the amount of protected land in the UK from 26% at present to 30% by 2030.
The South Downs from Ditchling Beacon photo by hehaden under creative commons. The South Downs National Park is England’s newest national park, designated in 2010, and, of course, within only thirty minutes drive of Normandy village.
The Guardian reports the campaign group Wild Justice has accused ministers of breaching their legal duties to protect sites of high conservation value in England by failing to control the use of large areas of countryside to shoot pheasant and red-legged partridge for sport. Their judicial review will be heard in the high court in November, as complaints mount about the exemptions given by ministers to the shooting industry to continue field sports during the coronavirus pandemic.
The Daily Telegraph reports the willow tit is the fastest-declining resident bird in the country, and one of the lowest in number, and the numbers have been in sharp freefall because their preferred habitat, shrubland, has been destroyed because of an obsession with neatness…. Government quango Natural England is also planning to compel local authorities to create more ‘untidy’ habitats for creatures including the Willow tit.
Willow tit photo by yrjö jyske under creative commons.
BBC News reports a budget designed to fund improvements to Britain’s countryside is set to be raided, the BBC has learned. Cash will be diverted away from ambitious conservation projects and towards protecting farm businesses. The government previously promised that the £3bn currently paid to farms under EU agriculture policy would be wholly used to support the environment. Ministers had said that, after Brexit, farmers would have to earn their subsidies. Farmers would secure the case by undertaking actions such as large-scale forestry or catching flood waters. But many farmers complained that they’d go bust unless the environmental actions were made easier to achieve.
The Daily Telegraph reports the Wildlife Trusts have called for a new ‘wildbelt’ designation that would allow land to be protected for nature. The Government has promised a radical shake-up of planning laws that it says will speed up development across the country by giving “automatic” permission to new homes and hospitals. But conservationists and rural groups fear a spread of low quality housing across the countryside which fails to protect wildlife or provide green spaces for everyone.
The Daily Telegraph, and The Times report beavers should be given legal status as a native species, the Government has been urged ahead of the start of the Scottish killing season. The Beaver Trust, a charity, has, in partnership with a range of other groups, drawn up a series of proposals on the future of the “sometimes troublesome” dam-building creatures which were almost hunted to extinction.
Photo by Pat Gaines under Creative Commons.
The Guardian reports politicians and developers must incorporate green thinking into the design of new infrastructure, according to the chair of the government’s conservation watchdog.
Natural England’s Tony Juniper called on the government and planners to change their thinking to ensure environmental considerations were designed into new housing estates, as well as road and rail projects, at the beginning, rather than being a hasty “add-on” or “mitigation” at the end.
INEWS reports charities are urging the government against making hasty changes to environmental regulations, as Environment Secretary George Eustice prepares to announce a post-Brexit overhaul of England’s planning system. Mr Eustice will on Monday announce a consultation to redraft England’s system of Environmental Impact Assessments (EIA), used by planners to assess the environmental impact of major development projects. But green groups are concerned the reforms could lead to weaker protections for rare habitats and species.
The Independent reports ‘As rivers become toxic and countryside becomes devoid of wildlife, the government must be held to account,’ say campaignersThe UK government is set to miss legally binding environment targets in 2020, according to an investigation that found it had failed on “pretty much every aspect” of protecting wildlife and the environment.
Despite promises to prioritise green issues, the UK has made little progress on tackling carbon emissions, air and water pollution, waste and overfishing, as well as increasing tree planting and biodiversity. Boris Johnson promised to “do extraordinary things on the environment”, yet the country’s green credentials are in disrepute, according to the investigation by Greenpeace’s journalism unit Unearthed and the Financial Times.
Tunnel in trees at Witley Common by Richard August under creative commons.
The Guardian reports National Parks and areas of outstanding natural beauty have not done enough to protect nature or welcome diverse visitors, and extra government funding must help drive radical change, according to a review.
The independent review, commissioned by the former environment secretary Michael Gove, praises the work of England’s 44 “national landscapes”, including the Lake District and Dartmoor, but calls for a new focus to stop declines in nature and welcome working-class and black and minority ethnic visitors.