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'Greenest Government ever' plans to sell off nature reserves

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default 'Greenest Government ever' plans to sell off nature reserves

Post by Adrian on 14th August 2010, 12:19 am

Plan to sell off nature reserves risks 'austerity countryside'

Sweeping cuts to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs' budget challenge coalition's green credentials

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Spending cuts would set back conservation and change habitats, nature and wildlife groups warn. Photograph: Alamy


Some of the most beautiful areas of Britain could be sold off and [You must be registered and logged in to see this link.] and countryside protection measures cut to the bone to meet expected 40% cuts in the budget of the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, it emerged.

Among the plans being considered by the government, which once declared itself "the greenest ever", are selling off national nature reserves; privatising parts of the Forestry Commission; privatising the Met Office, one of the world's leading research organisations on climate change; and withdrawing grants to British Waterways, which manages 2,200 miles of canals and rivers.Natural England, the government's principal nature [You must be registered and logged in to see this link.] agency, has put forward 400 job cuts next year, and up to another 400 after that, potentially one third of its workforce.

There are also concerns that the Environment Agency, which looks after waterways, air and soil, will have to slash spending on pollution and waste controls and river protection after the environment secretary, Caroline Spelman, recently said she had made it "perfectly clear" that the government would maintain the level of spending on flood defences – which take up more than half the agency's budget.Political observers warned that ministers could be floating radical ideas to soften the blow of lesser but still swingeing cuts in the autumn review of government spending for 2011-14.

However, if they go ahead such dramatic cuts would be the most radical rethink of the British natural environment in the last 40 years.Conservation experts said such cuts would set back nature conservation by many years and hinder the creation of new marine nature reserves and other initiatives intended to help Britain meet its legal obligations.

A senior environment official told the Guardian that deep cuts could lead to the UK being prosecuted and fined by the European commission for breaching strict conservation regulations under the European birds and habitats directives. "We'll get whopping great penalties, to say nothing of the reputational damage," he warned about the prospect of the cuts, which would be likely to affect England and Wales more than Scotland, whose government can set different funding priorities.

Such is the depth of concern that 25 leading conservation groups have made a joint statement to the government, saying the cuts "could have profound and perhaps irreversible consequences for wildlife, landscapes and people" and would be a "false economy – short-term savings would translate into huge long-term costs for our economy and our national wellbeing".

The statement, signed by the [You must be registered and logged in to see this link.], the [You must be registered and logged in to see this link.], Ramblers (formerly the Ramblers' Association) and others as part of Wildlife and Countryside Link, describes in detail the feared vision of "an austerity countryside".It says: "Reedbeds are dry and clogged with brambles; heathlands have vanished as scrub begins to take over.

Wetlands have dwindled and rivers and canals have become clogged by invasive plants which threaten native species. The loss of money for wildlife-friendly farming has seen farmland birds resume their slide into extinction."Bat populations are clinging on to survival in isolated pockets, facing starvation due to the dwindling insect populations, while the country's flower meadows have all but vanished.

England's uplands have become degraded; their wildlife is in decline, and their ability to lock away carbon and provide clean drinking water for millions sadly reduced. "Coastal habitats such as saltmarsh and saline lagoons – which provide flood protection as well as habitat – and fisheries, reefs and other important marine ecosystems would also be damaged, continues the statement. "There are fewer people too," it
adds. "Without cash to keep paths and bridleways open, huge swaths of the English countryside and coast are effectively closed to millions."

In advance of a major United Nations report and conference this autumn on the mounting global loss of ecosystems, species and genetic biodiversity, the UN's natural environment chief also warned the UK government against cutting biodiversity."It would be very short-sighted to cut biodiversity spending,"

Ahmed Djoghlaf, secretary general of this October's UN Convention on Biological Diversity, said. "You may well save a few pounds now but you will lose billions later. Biodiversity is your natural asset. The more you lose it, the more you lose your cultural assets too."Defra and Natural England said it was too early to comment on the outcome of the autumn spending review, but a Defra spokesman said: "Defra is fully committed to tackling the loss of biodiversity, as demonstrated when enhancing biodiversity was set as one of Defra's three key objectives in the recent strategic reform plan.

"We have already started work on the natural environment white paper, to be published in spring 2011, that will outline how we propose to protect and enhance biodiversity to benefit future generations and we welcome ideas of what should be included.

"In line with all government departments, Defra has been asked to cut spending this year by £162m, and submit plans for much tougher cuts of 25% to 40% for the following three years to 2014.Spelman has already announced the abolition of 30 environmental advisory groups and quangos, including the Sustainable Development Commission and the Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution.

Many more of the 90 organisations under Defra's control are expected to be severely cut or disbanded if the Treasury insists on 40% cuts.However respected experts such as Mark Avery, conservation director for the RSPB, report that people close to the negotiations are "talking about halving the budget", and there is speculation that Defra, one of the smallest departments, could be broken up if it becomes too tiny.Concern is heightened by fears that cutting spending on environmental projects and research will be politically easier than reducing public services such as education and care for the elderly, and by the lack of a cabinet committee for the environment.

Although recognising that all departments are taking severe cuts, Paul de Zylva, chair of Wildlife and Countryside Link, said conservationists did not see any way of cutting 40% from budgets without causing unacceptable damage.

The proposal document for selling minority or majority stakes in all of Natural England's national nature reserves, for example, states that they are "widely recognised as the most important reservoirs of wildlife and geology in England – the natural heritage equivalent of our national museums, galleries and monuments". They have the highest levels of national and European protection."Because it underpins a healthy society and all sorts of things like learning, education, recreation … the environment is actually a great investment," said de Zylva, contrasting it to the "bottomless pits" of health, defence and other departments.

Major conservation groups – likely to include the RSPB, the Woodland Trust and others, but not confirmed by any of those organisations – have been approached by the government to buy or help community groups to run NNRs, but charities also had reduced income from membership and government grants, he said.

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Last edited by Badger on 14th August 2010, 5:51 pm; edited 5 times in total
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Post by Compostwoman on 14th August 2010, 12:24 am

Arghhhh!

Absolute swine!

God I hate Tories! ( sorry, got political there...but still...its true!)

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default Re: 'Greenest Government ever' plans to sell off nature reserves

Post by Adrian on 14th August 2010, 12:28 am

I have tried to keep my posts apolitical, but this Condem government seems determined to destroy things I treasure, so I feel compelled to speak out.

Selling off national treasure to big business and tory mates is not good for Britain and now Cameron has stated that they intend to make these things irreversible regardless of the state of the economy, it is plainly an ideological attack on the idea of holding such things in trust for all citizens.

Harold Macmillan warned that Thatcher was selling off the family silver.
Cameron finding the silver gone resorts to selling off the estate
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Post by Compostwoman on 14th August 2010, 12:40 am

great agree

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Post by polgara on 14th August 2010, 7:59 am

Now there is a job for the great lazy & non working young people with older managers. To look after, keep clear our wonderful countryside!!

I suspect that once the protection is withdrawn we will see housing growing up everywhere.
One can see all sorts of problems arising from the loss of these places.

Also it will be another door for the overseas buyer, we are losing so much of our country to overseas that we soon will not have a country to call our own.
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Post by budburst12 on 14th August 2010, 9:16 am

Bastards! Oh dear... I was all for spending cuts before cos we totally need to learn to live with less money if we're to do this limits to growth thing properly, but then when it means cuts to wildlife protection, that's - like the article says - irreversible awfulness.

Local nature reserve near us has just gone up for sale, (but due to lease running out, not government stuff), so there's a local appeal going on to raise the money to buy it for the wildlife trust to manage. They've already raised a quarter of the £100K. Fair play! Is it going to come to this for nature reserves around the country? I'm sure the wildlife trusts won't let them all go without fighting to keep them.

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Post by Hairyloon on 14th August 2010, 9:39 am

Badger wrote:Selling off national treasure to big business and tory mates is not good for Britain and now Cameron has stated that they intend to make these things irreversible regardless of the state of the economy, it is plainly an ideological attack on the idea of holding such things in trust for all citizens.
Sorry, OP was too long, I got bored reading it, so I might have it wrong, but why would big business be interested in nature reserves and forestry? There is not much money in either.
There are no end of ordinary people that would love to own a bit of woodland and many individuals owning small bits can micro manage them far more effectively than the FC ever could.
Many of them are riddled with public footpaths, which will remain public footpaths.
Cameron finding the silver gone resorts to selling off the estate
If you find yourself incapable of managing the estate, what else are you supposed to do with it?
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Post by Guest on 14th August 2010, 10:20 am

Oh shit !!! ConDemmed is indeed what we are! And with all the weasle words (and I like weaasles !!!) to make it sound OK. We are in for a bad time folks, nothing but getting a smack in the face with a wet shark wakes most people out of stupour.



Badger, can I quote your piece on my blog?


Last edited by Elen Sentier on 14th August 2010, 10:22 am; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : extra question)

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Post by Hairyloon on 14th August 2010, 10:38 am

Badger wrote:Major conservation groups – likely to include the RSPB, the Woodland Trust and others, but not confirmed by any of those organisations – have been approached by the government to buy or help community groups to run NNRs...
Did nobody else read this bit?

What makes you all think that the government, who are so good at things like finding their arse with both hands, are the best people to have in charge of the countryside?
Or anything else come to that.
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Post by Dandelion on 14th August 2010, 10:48 am

Very depressing - it reminds me of Thatcher's remark when the Falklands conflict blew up that at last here was something decent to get her teeth into instaead of boring things like the environment.
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Post by Adrian on 14th August 2010, 11:24 am

Hairyloon wrote:
Badger wrote:
Cameron finding the silver gone resorts to selling off the estate
If you find yourself incapable of managing the estate, what else are you supposed to do with it?

Get out the forensic auditors and go after the 90 billion in unpaid taxes maybe? Get out of Iraq? Get out of Afghanistan? Scrap Trident? Tax every financial transaction in the city? Tax the banker bonuses at 50%?

The point is that this comes after the bonfire of the quangos which has effectively removed vast swathes of control and administration and most importantly protection from areas, if the nature reserves, forestry and areas of outstanding natural beauty are left unprotected and sold off, there is little hope of
a, public access to them,
b, them not being developed.

High Chancellor Cameron has already announced that the British housing stock is at an all time low (ignoring the millions of empty houses built by speculators) so it takes no great deductive leap to work out where these new houses will be built.
A large proportion of your drinking waters comes from areas formerly protected As they are now reduce/removing spending on environmental protection, water quality will inevitably decline, leading to more expensive treatment of water to meet drinking water standards...

And who pays for the more expensive treatment? Everyone through their water bills (plus a bit extra to satisfy the shareholders (obviously!)..
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Post by Adrian on 14th August 2010, 11:45 am

JOHN OF GAUNT

Methinks I am a prophet new inspired
And thus expiring do foretell of him:
His rash fierce blaze of riot cannot last,
For violent fires soon burn out themselves;
Small showers last long, but sudden storms are short;
He tires betimes that spurs too fast betimes;
With eager feeding food doth choke the feeder:
Light vanity, insatiate cormorant,
Consuming means, soon preys upon itself.

This royal throne of kings, this scepter'd isle,
This earth of majesty, this seat of Mars,
This other Eden, demi-paradise,
This fortress built by Nature for herself
Against infection and the hand of war,
This happy breed of men, this little world,
This precious stone set in the silver sea,
Which serves it in the office of a wall,
Or as a moat defensive to a house,
Against the envy of less happier lands,

This blessed plot, this earth, this realm, this England,
This nurse, this teeming womb of royal kings,
Fear'd by their breed and famous by their birth,
Renowned for their deeds as far from home,
For Christian service and true chivalry,
As is the sepulchre in stubborn Jewry,
Of the world's ransom, blessed Mary's Son,

This land of such dear souls, this dear dear land,
Dear for her reputation through the world,
Is now leased out, I die pronouncing it,
Like to a tenement or pelting farm:

England, bound in with the triumphant sea
Whose rocky shore beats back the envious siege
Of watery Neptune, is now bound in with shame,
With inky blots and rotten parchment bonds:
That England, that was wont to conquer others,
Hath made a shameful conquest of itself.

Ah, would the scandal vanish with my life,
How happy then were my ensuing death!


Richard II

Act 2, Scene 1
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Post by Compostwoman on 14th August 2010, 11:59 am

A large proportion of your drinking waters comes from areas formerly protected As they are now reduce/removing spending on environmental protection, water quality will inevitably decline, leading to more expensive treatment of water to meet drinking water standards...

And who pays for the more expensive treatment? Everyone through their water bills (plus a bit extra to satisfy the shareholders (obviously!)..

Except those of us who have bore holes and rely on Nitrate Protection Zones, the EA, and various other Gov't bodies to stop farmers polluting the place where our groundwater actually comes from.

Not too happy that protection will be lost for that, either.

A Tory never changes its spots but (apparently) a Lib Dem can


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Post by Hairyloon on 14th August 2010, 12:25 pm

Compostwoman wrote:A Tory never changes its spots but (apparently) a Lib Dem can
I thought it was Lib-Dem policy was to float on the wind?
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Post by polgara on 14th August 2010, 1:29 pm

Thank you from my ancestor & Shakespeare Badger.
However you looked at it, he loved his country.

As to the water business, something in the news a few days ago about a building site & water, cann`t remember where but the water table had dropped really low due to the work, though the contractors said no it was just one of those things.

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Post by Adrian on 14th August 2010, 1:54 pm

The other thing raised is the bait that local conservation groups could buy these areas, but I cannot see this government offering nature reserves, woodlands and areas of outstanding natural beauty at fixed prices to benevolent groups.

I'm more than certain that they will be auctioned off and Asdtecburies will always be able to outbid Mrs Biscuit from down the lanes local conservation group...

Of course, they will promise to care for these areas, but you know, they will need to raise funds to maintain them and so will need to build another store/depot/housing estate to raise those funds, so bam, goodbye to Mrs Biscuits ancient woodland/wildflower meadow...
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Post by Hairyloon on 14th August 2010, 4:49 pm

Badger wrote:The other thing raised is the bait that local conservation groups could buy these areas, but I cannot see this government offering nature reserves, woodlands and areas of outstanding natural beauty at fixed prices to benevolent groups.
They are usually sold by tender.
They can give consideration to a preferred buyer who may not have the highest bid.
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Post by Adrian on 14th August 2010, 5:06 pm

Maybe it is time for the rise of a new Chartism Movement, take back the land and redistribute it.
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Post by Wilhelm Von Rhomboid on 14th August 2010, 6:08 pm

Never mind the Bellocs, lets have a new distributist movement.
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Post by Dandelion on 14th August 2010, 10:31 pm

I'm going to become a Digger
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Post by Wilhelm Von Rhomboid on 14th August 2010, 11:45 pm

Better than becoming a Dogger.
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Post by Compostwoman on 15th August 2010, 12:26 am

Bugger that, I am going to become a do er

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Post by Guest on 15th August 2010, 9:15 am

having found the LibDem site on FB I'm banging on about this over there !!!

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Post by Hairyloon on 15th August 2010, 12:41 pm

Compostwoman wrote:Bugger that, I am going to become a do er
Just don't get dour.
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Post by Compostwoman on 15th August 2010, 3:57 pm

I could be a dour do er...would still be doing!

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