We’re really not spending enough on the environment. We have to do more according to Defra who tell us they have now got a lot of exciting plans to better protect, restore and improve our natural environment – by spending tons more of our money to prevent nature from shaping our natural environment in any sort of natural way..
Their proposals set out a detailed programme of action to repair damage done to the environment in the past, and urges everyone to get involved in helping nature to flourish at all levels – from neighbourhoods to national parks. It’s all set out in ‘The Natural Choice’, the first White Paper directly linked to the “groundbreaking research in the National Ecosystem Assessment published last week that showed the strong economic arguments for safeguarding and enhancing the natural environment.”
I don’t want to worry you too unduly but according to the fragrant Caroline Spelman, that groundbreaking research was conducted by “over 500 scientists from around the world” who “have now developed a tool by which we can assess more accurately the value of the natural world around us.” (!) Essentially, these ‘scientists’ appear to have abandoned science in order to make up lots of figures to convert free nature into a valuable commodity. “A walk in the woods, sir? That will be £17.30 + VAT. Observe all the signs and the one-way systems, stay on the designated paths and don’t forget to shut the gates!”
This ought to mean an end to destroying our landscape with wind turbines but no. Instead, the White Paper includes recommendations such as these;
- New Nature Improvement Areas (NIAs), transforming rural and urban areas and providing bigger, connected sites for wildlife to live in and adapt to climate change. With a £7.5 million fund for 12 initial NIAs to demonstrate just what can be done. Professor Sir John Lawton has agreed to chair the panel to allocate funding.
- Biodiversity offsetting – new way for developers to ensure we don’t lose wildlife sites and make them better by making and improving other sites.
- New Local Nature Partnerships to strengthen joined-up action across local agencies and organisations, with a £1 million available this year.
- Phasing out peat – working with the horticulture industry to phase out peat use, which will help to protect and restore our peatlands, which are valuable carbon sinks, habitats and part of our ecological network. A task force to consider all options to phase out use of peat in the supply chain will be chaired by Dr Alan Knight OBE.
Connecting people and nature for better quality of life
- Green Areas Designation allowing local communities to give protection to areas that are important to them for recreation, the view or their importance for wildlife.
- Better urban green spaces for the benefit of cities and towns. Support for parks, gardens, and tree planting which benefit people and nature alike
- More children experiencing nature by learning outdoors, through practical support to schools and reducing red-tape for outdoor learning.
- Strengthening local public health activities which connect people with nature for better health
- Rural car parks and a national rural charging network for iPads and handheld GPS devices
- New environmental volunteering initiative “Muck in 4 Life” to improve places in towns and countryside for people and nature to enjoy.
Capturing and improving the value of nature
- Natural Capital Committee – an independent body to report to the Government’s economic affairs committee chaired by the Chancellor of the Exchequer. This body will put the value of nature at the heart of the Government’s economic thinking, and advise Government about the best way of securing our natural assets for the future.
- An annual statement of green accounts for UK Plc – showing where our economy has withdrawn from the value of nature’s bank balance, and where we have invested in it. This will help measure green growth alongside GDP.
- A business-led Task Force chaired by Kingfisher Group Chief Executive Officer Ian Cheshire, to expand the UK business opportunities from new products and services which are good for the economy and nature alike
(OK, I made one of these up).
Lots of greenies in there – considering it’s only the Brightonians who vote for them, they really do have a very disproportionate influence on our lives: ain’t democracy great? And though it’s just a White Paper, the outcome appears to be a foregone conclusion with ‘key players’ already lined up. There’s B&Q representation a-plenty; as well as Ian Cheshire, Dr Alan Knight is ex-B&Q. Perhaps we’re going to deck over our countryside?
I was going to deconstruct all this nonsense but I can’t go on: I’ve lost the will to live. We have gone insane.