NbSI statement on UK government announcements and their threat to nature
In the midst of a climate and nature emergency, we are deeply concerned by the UK government’s recently announced plans that threaten to scrap vital legislation and incentives that protect nature and human health.
The Retained EU Law bill could revoke key legislation governing air pollution, water quality, pesticide use, and habitat and species protection. Further threats to climate protection and water quality arise from reversal of the manifesto commitment to ban fracking in England. In addition, the proposed planning and infrastructure bill will create Investment Zones and Freeports where uncontrolled development could destroy priority wildlife habitats. Also of concern is the proposed review of the long awaited Environmental Land Management Scheme (ELMS), which will be critical to enable farmers to shift to more resilient and nature-friendly food production systems, with multiple benefits such as flood mitigation, carbon sequestration and biodiversity protection.
Although all this deregulation is intended to promote growth in the short term, it will in fact undermine our future resilience, prosperity and health. Nature-based solutions that protect and restore ecosystems and manage our working lands and seas sustainably can protect us from 33 out of the 34 most dangerous climate risks identified in the third UK climate change risk assessment, including the impacts of floods, droughts and heatwaves on different sectors of the economy. Protecting and enhancing all the carbon stored in soils and vegetation is also essential if the UK is to achieve our binding net-zero target. Healthy ecosystems underpin food production, clean water supplies and human wellbeing, all essential to support a productive economy. In fact, the nature-based farming techniques that could be supported by ELMS can reduce dependence on ever more costly fertilisers and fossil fuels.
This unprecedented ‘attack on nature’ has united a growing coalition of environmental organisations and local communities in their condemnation. A coalition of 79 organisations have recently written a joint open letter to the UK Prime Minister urging them to change the Government’s trajectory on environmental deregulation, which risks harming nature and communities. We at NbSI are monitoring the ongoing situation closely, and we will continue to work with partners in policy and practice to raise awareness of the extremely harmful impacts of these proposals for nature, health and the economy.