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Wildlife and Countryside Link News

Welcome to Link’s news - a roundup of what happened in the last month. For updates from our working groups, please go to the policy hub. If you would like to submit news items for our monthly e-bulletin, please contact Ellie Ward. To subscribe please enter your email here.

November 2023

The King’s Speech on 7th November will announce the final legislative programme before the General Election. What can we expect? Media reports suggest that proposals for a damaging and unnecessary Bill to allow more nutrient pollution may have been dropped. Other reports suggest that even if there is no Nutrients Bill, there will be measures to inhibit ambitious climate action. It seems unlikely that there will be any Bills designed to boost nature’s recovery, despite the urgent need to confirm the commercial peat ban and to ratify the Global Ocean Treaty. With every year counting to hitting the target to halt the decline in species abundance by 2030, such a combination of weakened climate action and non-existent nature action, would be a profound misstep. There is still time, just, for the Government to take a different course.

Environmental Policy News

Nature Can't Wait campaign launched

Following the alarming findings of the State of Nature report in September, the RSPB has launched a major new campaign, calling on politicians to implement the solutions that will give nature a chance to recover. The solutions mirror those proposed by the ongoing Nature 2030 campaign, namely; increasing funding for nature-friendly farming, protecting more space for nature, creating green jobs, making polluters pay and giving everyone free, easy access to good quality nature. You can support the Nature Can’t Wait campaign here.

A series of further policy documents have been published in October to strengthen the case for ambitious action to restore nature. Link has produced four ‘minifestos’, setting out how the policy asks made by the Nature 2030 campaign could be applied to improve freshwaters, restore ocean health, tackle chemical pollution and increase public access to nature. The National Trust has published ‘A path to better things’, a set of asks to secure the future of nature and heritage for everyone, including key Nature 2030 policies such as National Nature Service and increasing the budget for nature friendly farming. Expect more such advocacy from Link members over the months ahead. The solutions nature requires to recover are to hand - we need politicians to seize them.

    Nature rises up the agenda at Party Conferences

    With nature campaigns on the rise, the biodiversity crisis – and ways to solve it – formed an important topic of discussion at Party Conferences this autumn. Conservative, Labour and Liberal Democrat Conference saw a plethora of nature events, with Link supporting sessions with partners on chemical pollution and Nature 2030.

    Pledges to protect nature abounded, from an assurance from Conservative Minister Mark Spencer that he saw environmental benefits as going hand in hand with economic benefits, to new Shadow Defra Secretary of State Steve Reed committing to Labour having ‘red lines for nature’, which would not be crossed. The Liberal Democrat Conference saw new environmental and farming policy programmes adopted, including an extra £1 billion for greener farming. The test of all these warm words is whether they make it through from the Conference floor into Party Manifestos, as detailed, ambitious policy commitments.

    Reintroduction of species 'not a priority for the Government'

    Link members have expressed concern after the Government rejected a select committee recommendation to adopt a long-term strategic vision on species reintroduction. The EFRA Select Committee published a report in July highlighting the benefits of well-planned species reintroduction for nature’s recovery and for local communities. The Government’s response was published last week, and saw a refusal to consider a strategy, or produce a list of priority species for reintroduction, on the grounds that the ‘reintroduction of species is not a priority for the government’.

    Link members, including Rewilding Britain, Chester Zoo and the Mammal Society have expressed significant concern about this Ministerial position, and its chilling effect on reintroduction projects that would help meet Nature 2030 targets, as well as firing the public imagination. Beavers provide a case in point. Despite strong public support and robust evidence in favour of more beaver reintroductions, over the last year the Government has failed to progress initial plans to enable a new round of beaver releases on a significant scale. As Rewilding Britian have commented, the Government risks ‘‘removing a vital species-shaped tool for nature recovery.’’

    Bulletin Board

    Link blogs you may have missed:

    Access to nature for all
    The Ramblers, British Canoeing, Open Spaces Society and the British Mountaineering Council make the case for an Access to Nature Bill, to give more people more access to nature.

    UK’s biggest nature charities publish shared Nature Markets Principles

    James Alexander, Chair of Finance Earth, writes on newly published principles to ensure nature markets truly deliver for nature, climate and people.

    The planning system & nature: What next?

    As the Levelling Up & Regeneration Act receives Royal Assent, Link looks back at how the legislation has been improved for nature - and ahead to expected new rounds of planning reform.

    Link publishes Land Use Framework briefing
    A new briefing, setting out how a land use framework could help integrate national and local decision-making across different land uses, has been published today with the support of twenty organisations. The briefing can be found here.

    Talk and Q&A from Professor Dieter Helm

    Professor Dieter Helm will be joining Link on Wednesday, 8 November, 4.30-5.30pm, for an online talk about the policy proposals in his new book, Legacy, followed by Q&A. If you are interested in attending, please email

    Call out for OCEAN committee members

    Defra are looking to appoint a committee of up to 10 marine and development experts, to help make decisions on applications to the new 'OCEAN' fund, a new competitive grants programme for ocean health under the UK’s Blue Planet Fund. Further details can be found here.

    UK to oppose deep sea mining

    The Government has confirmed that UK will back calls for a moratorium on the granting of exploitation licenses for deep sea mining projects ahead of COP28. More about this welcome decision can be found here.

    Environmental principles come into force

    On 01.11.23 Section 19 of the Environment Act came into force, requiring the Government to give due regard to environmental principles. Read more here.

    Sector job vacancies:
    A list of job opportunities across the Link network can be found here, including roles with National Trails UK and National Parks England.

    Wildlife and Countryside Link (Link) is the largest environment and wildlife coalition in England, bringing together 80 organisations to use their strong joint voice for the protection of nature. You can learn more about Link’s policy work here.

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    The Wildlife and Countryside Link team

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