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Chief Executive Marian Spain on NE’s priorities for the year ahead

Posted by: , Posted on: - Categories: Wildlife

The situation we all find ourselves in as the nation copes with the impact of the coronavirus on all of our lives is a stark reminder that thriving nature is not just nice to have, but a fundamental necessity for both people and our planet.

The way we look after our environment has long lasting implications for our economy and our society as well as the longer term future of biodiversity and our climate.

Natural England’s work to support nature’s recovery over the coming year and enable more people to connect with nature will be essential.

That’s why, whilst it might seem strange to be outlining our plans for the year with so much uncertainty ahead, we have decided to do so:  our mission to build partnerships for nature’s recovery and goals will be just as important during the Coronavirus crisis, even if as the year unfolds we have to reprioritise, shrink or grow our actions and projects as we adjust to impacts on how we work and how we spend.

We are this year  marking a significant milestone as for the first time in many years we see a small but important  increase in our budget, both for  our statutory duties and to take on new roles on behalf of the government to restore nature and tackle climate change. So in summary our plan for the year:

Firstly, we will invest in reforming some of our statutory duties which have been under the most strain. For example, by updating the way we monitor and manage Sites Of Special Scientific Interest. Additional funds will go towards maintaining an effective service for developers through our role in the planning system, and for those who require licences to manage protected wildlife. We will also ensure our National Nature Reserves are well managed for visitors.

And second when it comes to boosting biodiversity, we will create a Partnership to developing a National Nature Recovery Network and we will lead on pilots for Local Nature Recovery Strategies, one of the flagships of the 25 Year Environment Plan. We are also preparing for local authorities’ work to implement the new net gain policy – should this be  confirmed in a forthcoming  Environment Act – and to deliver advice to farmers so they can participate effectively in the new Environmental Land Management Scheme pilots. Finally, we are proud to be working with the National Academy for Social Prescribing to make nature one of the ways everybody cares for their mental and physical health.

However, while the funding uplift is very welcome, we still face a challenge for many aspects of our work – for, example on marine protected areas and landscape designations - where we will need to balance what we can afford now with the ambitions that we have for the longer term.

My overall aim for this year and these difficult times is that Natural England stay true to its purpose and its mission and ensures the public benefits now more than ever from a better natural environment. Despite the challenges, all of us at Natural England look forward to working with our partners over the year ahead.

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  1. Comment by Rob Yorke posted on

    "Natural England’s work to support nature’s recovery over the coming year and enable more people to connect with nature will be essential."

    One piece left out.

    'work closely with land managers to adapt land use management practices to become more resilient to challenges ahead'

    Slot in after "the coming year"....

    best wishes
    Rob Yorke

  2. Comment by I McDonald posted on

    There is no mention of Natural England working with the public.

    • Replies to I McDonald>

      Comment by Dr Rodney Horder posted on

      That is because it doesn't.
      One worrying submission in recent weeks was that of Natural England who have failed to object to a development despite overwhelming evidence concerning the devastating effects on wildlife and potential flooding in Maidencombe. To this end, we arranged a video conference with the Natural England representative who explained that his response was constrained by Natural England national guidelines which meant that he was unable to object to the application. Further, we were told that although the information which had informed his decision had only been that provided by the developer, he was unable to consider any information from other individuals and groups, and that any such information must be passed to him by the Torbay Planning Department!

      As a publicly funded body, we find this totally unacceptable, as much of the information on which his decision has been based is inaccurate and out of date – for example the last bat survey undertaken was in 2016!

      We have written to Marian Spain to express our concerns but, having had no response, we intend to escalate this matter.

  3. Comment by Kevin More posted on

    Perhaps you should come to Ford in West Sussex to see the increase in wildlife on farmland soon to be filled with 1500 homes,schools etc.
    One of the most important sightings I have recently seen are Red Kites,

  4. Comment by John Walker posted on

    Interesting statement with a strong focus on public benefits of
    the natural environment, and providing safe access for them, but I do not see a mention of the benefit for the flora and fauna that are the most important reason for such sites, and some of these fauna need
    safe protection from public access.

  5. Comment by Rob Yorke posted on

    Hello - could you please moderate my earlier comment (posted 19 May) thank you