Government’s White Paper commitment reiterated

A written parliamentary question tabled by Bob Russell MP to DCLG today received an answer from the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Natural Environment and Fisheries in DEFRA, Richard Benyon MP.

Question: “To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government with reference to page 17 of The Coalition: Our Programme for Government, what plans he has to promote green spaces and wildlife corridors in order to halt the loss of habitat and restore biodiversity.” [348]

Answer: (Richard Benyon) “I have been asked to reply. We look forward to receiving Sir John Lawton’s report, “Making Space for Nature”, later in the summer. Sir John’s update in March reported that to achieve a coherent and resilient ecological network we will need to look beyond existing designated sites and take account of landscape designations, local wildlife sites and green spaces.

The Government are also looking forward to the completion of work currently being carried out by Natural England on the implementation of landscape-scale enhancements to benefit wildlife. This will build on and use the lessons learned from existing work such as the Great Fen, a collaboration between Natural England, Environment Agency, the local Wildlife Trust and district council, which is joining up two national nature reserves through creating 3,700 ha of wetland habitat in Cambridgeshire, which will deliver benefits not only for biodiversity but also for water quality, recreation and local communities.

In addition, this Government will deliver a White Paper, the first since 1990, that will, finally, take an integrated approach to the natural environment in all its aspects. By reflecting nature’s real value in our social and economic decisions we will be able to review and improve the ways in which we both harness and protect it. We are currently considering options and time scales for taking this commitment forward.”

This reaffirms DEFRA’s commitment to publishing a White Paper on the natural environment, as suggested by the Prime Minister before reaching government.