MCS backs call for Prime Minister to do more for nature

Richard Harrington By: Richard Harrington
Date posted: 19 November 2013

MCS backs call for Prime Minister to do more for nature The Government is failing to deliver nearly a third of its natural environment commitments, despite huge public support for action for nature, wildlife and the countryside.

MCS backs call for Prime Minister to do more for nature The Government is failing to deliver nearly a third of its natural environment commitments, despite huge public support for action for nature, wildlife and the countryside. The Government’s performance in protecting our environment has come under scrutiny in Nature Check 2013, a report published today (19th November 2013) by 41 environmental organisations (including MCS), under the umbrella of Wildlife and Countryside Link. The proportion of nature commitments on which the Government is failing has steadily worsened during its term in office. Areas in which it is falling short include protection of the Green Belt, farm animal welfare, designating the full network of Marine Conservation Zones and reversing wildlife declines. MCS Senior Policy Officer, Mel Moore, says the lack of protection for English seas clearly highlights the Government’s failings in this area: “Four years after the Marine Act came into force Government still hasn’t designated a network of Marine Conservation Zones around England. A network of sites were recommended in 2011, but Government only consulted on 31, less than a quarter of them. We’re awaiting an announcement on the designation of these sites soon, which we will welcome as a first step towards a network. But Government needs to speed up up the process & publish timetable for the network, as half the sites are at severe risk of damage.” Nonetheless, the report acknowledges that some areas show progress, demonstrating that the Government is capable of providing green leadership. Examples include reform of the Common Fisheries Policy, work on ash dieback, and international work to protect elephants, rhinos and whales. The report urges the Government to implement the Common Agricultural Policy so that it delivers as much as possible for wildlife and the countryside. The organisations behind the report include household names like WWF, The Wildlife Trusts, RSPB, CPRE, RSPCA and MCS. All the organisations are urging the Government to recognise the value of nature to both the economy and to the people of Britain. Alongside the report, the organisations have published a ComRes survey of more than 2,000 adults, which has revealed the love people have for the British countryside.3 Notably, 83% of British adults believe the natural environment should be protected at all costs, while only a quarter think the Government is doing enough to protect our landscapes and wildlife. Speaking on behalf of the 41 organisations, Wildlife and Countryside Link’s Director, Dr Elaine King, said: “David Cameron promised the greenest Government ever. Using the Government’s own promises as a yardstick, today’s findings show he’s failed to stick to his plan. The organisations behind the report include household names like WWF, The Wildlife Trusts, RSPB, CPRE and the RSPCA. All the organisations are urging the Government to recognise the value of nature to both the economy and to the people of Britain. “Our wetlands alone provide a home for millions of migrating birds and other wildlife, but they also give us ú350 million worth of flood protection a year through storing rainwater that would otherwise run off our roads and fields into our towns. Without wetlands, the cost of resulting flood damage would need to be met by businesses and Government and passed on to the public through higher prices and higher taxes.” The report rates four of the Government’s commitments to the natural environment as green (good progress), with 12 amber (moderate progress) and nine red (failing). Of the commitments which were rated in a similar report a year ago, 20% have got worse and only 10% have improved. Wildlife and Countryside Link’s ComRes survey, published today, shows the personal value of the environment to people in Britain, alongside their view of the Government’s performance. Findings include: Regarding the environment: ├» ÇÜ À 91% of people agree we should improve the condition of the natural environment for future generations. ├» ÇÜ À 85% agree the natural environment boosts their quality of life. Regarding the Government: ├» ÇÜ À 21% agree the current Government is the é’greenest Government ever’. ├» ÇÜ À 28% agree the Government is taking the right steps to leave the natural environment in a better condition for future generations The report Nature Check 2013 and the ComRes Countryside Survey, are available online www.wcl.org.uk/nature-check.asp

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