Response to Britain’s ‘new deal’: Nature must be at the heart of the economic recovery

Dorset Wildlife Trust (DWT) welcomes recent government announcements to invest in local nature conservation projects. However, there is deep concern about the threat to environmental regulations and massive spending on roads at a time when serious investment in nature could address the greatest emergencies of our time – climate change and nature loss – as well as providing jobs and improving people’s lives.

On Tuesday 30th June, the Prime Minister announced a new deal for Britain “which puts jobs and infrastructure at the centre of the government’s economic growth strategy.”  Despite promising a green recovery and to ‘Build Back Greener’ the announcement has raised concerns about the future of environmental regulations that protect wildlife and the natural environment. 

In response to this, Dorset Wildlife Trust’s Chief Executive, Brian Bleese said, “We must take this opportunity to put nature at the heart of all development.  Degrading the environment in order to facilitate rapid building will only deepen the environmental and climate crises.  We need investment in the future health of the natural environment, which will create jobs and stimulate economic growth.  Economic growth and environmental improvements should not be mutually exclusive.” 

In his speech, the Prime Minister made specific reference to building fast and removing wildlife that presents an obstacle. DWT is extremely concerned that this is painting a false picture and blaming wildlife when development timescales depend on a whole host of factors, not least Local Authority capacity and the housing market.  The Habitats and Birds Regulations have been reviewed by DEFRA numerous times and in 2012 were declared fit for purpose. There is already a new system in place for ensuring great crested newts are protected through development whilst speeding up decisions. Our wildlife is already heavily depleted and downgrading the small amount of protection it currently has will be counter-productive to our national wellbeing. 

DWT encourages the right development in the right place.  Developers must take account of nature in the early stages of the planning process.  In Dorset, DWT and partners have worked for many years to set up systems that give clarity for developers and speed up the planning process, whilst protecting wildlife.  This is working for Dorset’s heathlands and Poole Harbour and Dorset Council run a well-established system to assess wildlife impacts of most applications in their area prior to registration.  This has been welcomed by planners and developers and speeds up the process whilst protecting wildlife.   

Find out more here about how Dorset Wildlife Trust is working to ensure a wilder future. 

Common blue butterfly on Devil's-bit scabious © Jane Adams

Common blue butterfly on Devil's-bit scabious © Jane Adams