George Eustice: “UK wildlife to get better protection outside EU” – Boris complains of “newt counting”

However, the RSPB’s chief executive Beccy Speight said the Government had not met its promises for a tough independent green watchdog after Brexit, new ambitious nature recovery targets or billions of pounds of investment into nature-friendly farming.

Mr Eustice’s speech again fails to deliver, she warned.

“Instead we have a welcome but frankly tiny announcement of new money, well short of the investment that is needed, and a commitment to change the planning system where the purpose and details of that review remain opaque at best or frankly disingenuous. She said reality needed to match what she called ‘green rhetoric’

 

EMILY BEAMENT – Western Morning News

‘NATURE will be at the heart of the efforts to reboot the economy following the coronavirus pandemic, Environment Secretary George Eustice will insist in a speech to be delivered online today.

The MP for Camborne and Redruth will set out Government plans to boost the environment after Brexit, but he will also warn of the negative impacts that European Union environmental law has had on protecting nature.

And he will announce plans to “simplify” the environmental impact assessments some developments have to undertake, in the wake of Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s promise to “build, build, build” out of the economic crisis.

There have been widespread calls for a green recovery from the pandemic, with investment in everything from tree planting to insulating homes to create jobs, but concerns that the Government has so far not delivered at scale.

Mr Eustice set to tell listeners at the Green Alliance event that leaving the EU does not mean retreating from, the UK’s role in the world when it comes to the environment, and the country should “redouble our efforts globally’:

But in the face of concerns among environmental groups that leaving the EU could erode UK environmental protections, he will say: “EU environmental law always has good intentions but there are negative consequences to attempting to legislate for these matters at a supranational level?’

He said it led to a situation where national governments became reluctant to make new commitments in the face of legal risks, not enough scientists were involved and there were “too many reports but not enough action’:

“Our approach must create ‘the space for more experimentation and innovation;’ he said.

The Environment Secretary will announce £4 million to trial green prescribing, where people are prescribed time in nature as part of efforts to boost their physical or mental health.

And he will also seek to reassure the groups that the efforts to rebuild after the pandemic will be sustainable and protect important habitats.

He will announce a consultation on environmental impact assessments, saying: “There is scope to consolidate and simplify the process.

“We can set out which habitats and species will always be off-limits, so everyone knows where they stand.

“And we can add to that list where we want better protection for species that are characteristic of our country and critical to our ecosystems that EU ignored, things like veteran trees, ancient woodland, water voles, red squirrels, adders, and pine martens?’

His comments come after the PM complained of “newt-counting” delays holding up development, referencing problems with protecting great crested newts that conservationists say have been resolved with a new approach.

But it prompted concerns that the Government was seeking to weaken environmental protections to boost house building and construction, with a shake up of the planning rules due shortly.

The RSPB’s chief executive Beccy Speight said the Government had not met its promises for a tough independent green watchdog after Brexit, new ambitious nature recovery targets or billions of pounds of investment into nature-friendly farming.

Mr Eustice’s speech again fails to deliver, she warned.

“Instead we have a welcome but frankly tiny announcement of new money, well short of the investment that is needed, and a commitment to change the planning system where the purpose and details of that review remain opaque at best or frankly disingenuous. She said reality needed to match what she called ‘green rhetoric’

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