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Wildlife Trust uses ‘10 years on’ analogy in call to MPs to make Ag Bill ‘greener’

Wildlife industry bods have demanded MPs to back their amendments for a greener Agriculture Bill to avoid slashed investment in land and environment schemes 10 years from now.

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Wildlife Trust uses ‘10 years on’ analogy in call to MPs to make Ag Bill ‘greener’

The Wildlife Trust senior policy manager Ellie Brodie used the 10-year analogy to visualise what she called ‘a plausible alternative scenario’ in which, by 2028, funding for farmers and land managers had been slashed in government spending review year on year, with public money being spent on paying farmers to produce cheap food.

 

Instead of having long-term funding from the government’s Environmental Land Management Scheme (ELMS) and the option to use satellite imagery to monitor pollutant run-off, farmers would be left so unsure of whether they would be fairly paid for public goods that they would choose not to bother and instead use the ‘so-called delinked payment for machinery to help them apply ever more toxic chemicals’.

 

The Trust’s amendments included giving ministers duties to further the maintenance, recovery and restoration of the natural environment and ensuring payments for improving productivity were conditional on safeguarding environmental outcomes.


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On the potential 2028 scenario, Ms Brodie said: “Wildlife declines have been compounded by the absence of environmental targets for nature’s improvement, because no-one – farmers, civil servants or politicians – stretched themselves to meet them.

 

Action

“There was no vision, ambition of accountability. And no there is no agri-environment scheme either.

 

“Now bees are threatened with extinction in the south and east of England and anglers can no longer have much loved species in our countryside – hares, dormice and water voles have all gone extinct.

“It does not sound so great, does it? But this is where we could be without action this year from MPs.”

 

The Wildlife Trust is calling for:

  • Long-term and substantial funding set at a level required to deliver its ambition to leave the environment in a better state for the next generation;
  • Duty to act, not just powers – a requirement to further maintenance, recovery and restoration of the natural environment through an ELMS;
  • New ambitious targets for nature’s recovery covering clean air and water, healthy soils, public access to high-quality natural green spaces, connected and quality habitats and abundant wildlife, including pollinators;
  • Sustainable productivity improvement payments for activities which deliver equivalent or improved environmental outcomes;
  • Trade deals which do not allow the import of products produced to lower environmental and animal welfare standards;
  • Regulatory baseline and compliance – that receipt of public payments is dependent on adhering to regulatory standards.
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