The first year of the Natural Environment White Paper: an evaluation by Wildlife and Countryside Link

The Natural Environment White Paper (The Natural Choice: securing the value of nature, NEWP) was published a year ago in June. The White Paper set out four ambitions to achieve a healthy natural environment to be the foundation of green economic growth, prospering communities and personal wellbeing. Now, on the first anniversary of the NEWP, the Wildlife and Countryside Link (Link) prepared a paper to reflect on its progress. The paper is supported by 12 organisations including the BES.

The organisations applaud the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) on the achievements of the first year and also highlight challenges that need to be addressed in the future. The paper mentions two positive milestones: the NEWP’s significant influence on the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) and the designation of the 12 Nature Improvement Areas (NIAs). It also welcomes the 50 Local Nature Partnerships (LNPs) that should soon be announced.

Link also recognizes three main areas of concern which are emerging risks to the effective delivery of the NEWP.
1) The message of the White Paper should be fully integrated within other Government departments. The paper recommends the development and communication of a cross-Government strategy for implementation of the NEWP.
2) Funding for new initiatives needs to be secured. The paper acknowledges the progress made in this area and warns that the development and implementation of new and innovative approaches to funding for initiatives is essential to continue.
3) The organisations urge Defra to ensure that all initiatives in the White Paper have a clear purpose, dedicated administrative support and initial funding.

At the end of the paper the organisations congratulate Defra for its achievements so far and acknowledge that it is not realistic to make a full evaluation of the impacts of the White Paper after one year. They also offer their continued support to Defra and other Government departments in their efforts in this regard.

The paper has been sent to Caroline Spelman ahead of a Defra event tomorrow, ‘How do we secure the value of nature at home and abroad?’. This event will consider what measures are needed to ensure that the value of nature is properly accounted for in decisions on how land is used as well as focussing on the progress made in the first year after the release of the White Paper. The BES Policy Team will attend this event.

Link’s paper can be downloaded from here.