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“New species funding must be more than a flash in the pan” – Wildlife and Countryside Link reacts to Environment Improvement Plan

31 January 2023

Wildlife and Countryside Link has welcomed commitments in the Environment Improvement Plan (EIP) to give everyone access to natural space within fifteen minutes’ from their home, and for new species recovery funding. However, the coalition has also warned that these must be locked into law and given long-term funding to ensure the commitments become permanent action.

Dr Richard Benwell, CEO of Wildlife and Countryside Link, said:

“Ensuring easy access to nature would be great news for health and wellbeing, especially for the millions of people living in neighbourhoods deprived of natural space. The Government’s positive commitment today should be locked into law, with a clear mission in the Levelling Up Bill to ensure that everyone can benefit from a healthy environment.

“New species recovery funding is excellent, but it must be more than a flash in the pan. The forthcoming Spring Budget must underline the intentions of the Environmental Improvement Plan by setting out the long-term investment needed to halt nature’s decline – the Prime Minister will need to ensure that every Department, including Treasury, is full square behind the plan’s delivery.”

The EIP needs to include measurable and timebound policies and actions that will add up to meeting nature 2030 targets and halting the decline of nature by 2030.

  1. The EIP should set ambitious interim Environment Act targets, as well as demonstrating how the Government will meet the interim and long-term Environment Act targets. These include the species abundance target, and international commitments, such as the 30x30 target recently agreed at COP15.
    • The Government should set a target on the condition of protected landscapes including National Parks and AONBs, and amend the Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill so it reforms purposes, duties and management to improve these important areas for nature.
  2. The EIP must be supported by long-term (not a one-off) funding to deliver for nature. 
    • Such funding should include the new Environmental Land Management (ELM) system of farming support, to at least £2.4 billion per annum for the next five years. This has the potential to help improve the condition of protected sites for nature (SSSIs) in farmed landscapes.
  3. The EIP should be a cross-Government plan and should include policy actions for implementation by other departments (such as DLUHC and DfT). 
    • Accountability and ownership for delivery should be shared at Cabinet level.

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