BES responds to Defra’s ‘Invitation to shape the nature of England’

The Policy Team has today submitted its response to Defra’s consultation on the forthcoming White Paper on the Natural Environment. The Department’s discussion document published earlier this summer, asked a series of questions about the current system of nature protection in England, and sought input on how it could be improved.

In responding to the document, BES has presented practical improvements in a number of policy areas, from biodiversity protection, to water, sea and air pollution. The discussion document also asked consultees to comment on the overarching challenges identified by the Department, and the best way to respond to these challenges. The document included a strong emphasis on the role of the ‘Big Society’ in delivering conservation objectives, asking what role civil society should play in managing future conservation work. Some key recommendations in the BES response are below:

• The challenge posed by biodiversity loss requires explicit recognition in the White Paper.
• A systematic review of existing legislation is needed to identify gaps for the White Paper to fill. The proper implementation of existing law is equally important, as is the strengthening of existing planning guidance, which could be reworded.
• Innovative ways need to be found to fund conservation, in the absence of public funds. Market mechanisms, for example a biodiversity offsetting system to compensate for losses from development, could be considered.
• Civil society can be given an enhanced role in the management of the natural environment but only in the context of an overarching national framework. It is not practical to rely on NGOs and charities to deliver UK compliance with targets.
• Implementing the 24 recommendations contained within Sir John Lawton’s “Making Space for Nature” Review should be a priority action going forward. This offers a coherent and effective approach to managing our ecological networks.

The full response is available on the BES website – we welcome your comments.