Government Plans To Scrap Natural England – ‘Calamitous’
By TruePublica: The internal publication for civil servants has reported the government is planning on scrapping Natural England. Its purpose in life is, as it says on its homepage – “the government’s adviser for the natural environment in England. We help to protect and restore our natural world.”
There’s a good reason why the government is planning such a move – the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) has, according to analysts, investigators and campaigners – “failed on pretty much every aspect of protecting wildlife and the environment.” This makes it the perfect department for hiding yet more failings on the environment.
Well before the pandemic back in 2019 – despite promises to prioritise green issues, the UK had made little progress on tackling carbon emissions, air and water pollution, waste and overfishing, as well as increasing tree planting and biodiversity.
Boris Johnson promised to “do extraordinary things on the environment”, yet the country’s green credentials were in chaos, according to the investigation by Greenpeace’s journalism unit Unearthed and the Financial Times.
But as the civil service now says – scrapping Natural England would be a “calamity” that would undermine the government’s net-zero goals, after it emerged that ministers are considering absorbing it into Defra.
Campaigners have raised concerns after spotting plans to dismantle the arm’s-length body buried in a consultation document published by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs in March.
“Abolishing Natural England would be nothing short of vandalism”
A Defra spokesperson did not deny the reports, confirming that “changes could be made to the current structure”, although they said no decisions had been made.
Craig Bennett, the chief executive of the Wildlife Trusts, said that various ministers are “a bit obsessed with absorbing the conservation body into Defra”.
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He accused the government of having “an obsession with moving furniture around”.
“If they’re not careful, it’s going to be like moving deckchairs around on the Titanic while we face massive crises,” he said.
The Prospect trade union said abolishing the body would be “nothing short of vandalism”.
Government budget cuts in Defra can be blamed for much of the mismanagement and missed targets. Back in 2019, Sam Chetan-Welsh, political campaigner at Greenpeace UK said:
“The government is failing to take sufficient action on pretty much every aspect of nature and the environment, despite endless promises to leave it in a better state than it found it. It’s set to miss more targets than an archer shooting blindfolded.”