Posts Tagged ‘defra’

Back in June, Defra published the first Natural Environment White Paper in 20 years. You can download it if you click here. White Papers are important. They set the strategy for public policy for a long time. They declare the objectives of policy and are followed by action plans outlining how the objectives will be met – who will do what when and how money and other resources will be expended for the purpose.

I tried to find the 1991 version as it was out just before I started to chew the cud in this pasture and I am sure we had bought it. I couldn’t find it unfortunately – it must have been sent to recycling in one of the many spring cleans we’ve had over the years. But looking through our library I realised one clear change in environmental policy over the years – we (at least our pasture) have achieved the target of using less paper. Most of the documents (including this last White Paper) are now electronic – we of course use energy to access them but I am assuming that is less than having paper copies of everything.

Anyway, I digress…in any case there is far more in the White Paper than I can cover in a blog post and it’s already been over a month since the paper was published (apologies for late posting!). But there are some principles that need to be covered here and given that the paper is setting the scene for long time to come, it’s not that late:

  • There is a lot of mention of the Value of Nature – including in the title of the paper
  • There is a lot of emphasis on local environment – Local Nature Partnerships and  Nature Improvement Areas that will increase individuals’ involvement (especially voluntarily) in the enjoyment and protection of nature, and increasing the importance of nature in the planning system
  • There is a lot of emphasis in voluntary action by businesses by allowing voluntary biodiversity offsets in pilot areas – whereby businesses create new habitats or enhance existing ones to compensate for the damage their activities (new development or operation) cause.
  • The way the national accounts are estimated will be improved by including the value of natural capital and cost of its degradation due to pollution and exploitation.
  • There are also many commitments to UK’s international role within the EU and the rest of the world.

Underlying all these commitments which will hopefully find agreement amongst most stakeholders is the idea of the economic and social value of the environment – discussion that moved on over the last 20 years and includes the National Ecosystems  Assessment which we covered in our previous post in response to George Monbiot.

As with all these things, the proof of the pudding is in the doing! We are looking forward to Defra’s Action Plan which is due to be published by the end of this year.

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The Defra website has recently started posting up ‘mythbusters’ – a convenient way for them to refute claims made by sensational newspapers. We were disappointed however to find out that Defra are not, in fact, spending £12 million on cow flatulence as the Express reported on Friday November 5th.  We felt extra special but now we find out that we will have to share that limelight with the rest of agriculture!

We were also relieved to find out that the privately owned woodlands will still enjoy legal protection from development, however it still does not address all our concerns from our last post!

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