Defra Publishes ‘Underwhelming’ Nature Green Paper – consultation closes on 11 May 2022

The Government have published their Nature Recovery Green Paper Consultation, the launch of the Environmental Targets Consultation, and new guidance on Nutrient Neutrality.  The document asks more questions than providing solutions

CLICK HERE for the consultation 

The consultation will close at 23:59 on 11 May 2022. You can respond via the link mentioned above or you can submit your view to: Also please use this email address to ask any questions.  

Click Nature Recovery Green Paper read and download the green paper.

We echo the thoughts of Wildlife and Countryside Link

It’s right to consider how the protection for sites and species can be strengthened. We welcome some elements: proposals for statutory site improvement plans, stronger penalties for wildlife crime, and ideas for a new Nature Recovery Network designation. But the proposals in the paper would not constitute the improvements for sites and species needed for nature’s recovery by 2030. The answer isn’t an exercise in simplification; that will use a lot of time, without clear benefits for wildlife. The proposals include clear risks of removing key elements of the Habitats Regulations site protection process, and protection for species under the Wildlife and Countryside Act.

On the targets Wildlife and Countryside Link say:

We welcome the focus on the 2030 species abundance target. But the long-term wildlife target must be ambitious enough to truly “pass on nature in a better condition”. As written, species abundance could at best take 20 years to get back to current day levels, and may actually be lower in 2042 than it is today. We need a protected sites target to restore SSSIs to favourable conditions. As written, there is no target to improve the condition of SSSIs.

There should be a long-term target for the overall condition of our rivers and streams. As written, there are partial targets for farming and wastewater, but no measure of overall quality of freshwaters. The marine environment is neglected. As written, only seabirds will be part of the species abundance target.

See also this post by Wildlife and Countryside Link: CLICK HERE

We also agree with Dr Stephanie Wray, chair of CIEEM’s Strategic Policy Panel, who says:

A Green Paper doesn’t tie a government to do anything; it’s an opportunity to test the water. It was therefore disappointing that at a time when the natural environment is in crisis and the Treasury’s own Dasgupta Review has indicated structural change is needed, this Green Paper promoted more of the same failed approaches. Dr Wray added that one example (of many) specifics that worried her:

I am very concerned that the Government proposes that terrestrial sites would be designated by Ministers “on the advice of their nature conservation bodies”. Sites are currently designated by those nature conservation bodies; the only effect of this proposed change would be to move away from evidence-based conservation and add a political dimension”.

Here is summary of what the Government say:

Protecting wildlife sites, on land and at sea – considers whether we currently have effective designations and systems of management and protection in place to deliver nature recovery and address the drivers of nature decline (chapter 3)

Delivering ’30 by 30‘ – sets out how we intend to achieve our commitment to protect 30% of our land and sea by 2030 and ensure it delivers for nature recovery (chapter 4)

Protecting species – sets out proposals to modernise wildlife legislation to support more effective protection and recovery of England’s wildlife (chapter 5)

Delivering nature recovery – considers key elements of delivery necessary to achieve our nature recovery ambitions, including financing and a review into how to bring coherence to the functions of nature regulators. (chapter 6)

New, long-term environmental targets have been announced by the Government. The proposed targets are a cornerstone of the Government’s Environment Act which passed into law in November last year. The Government say they will drive action by successive governments to protect and enhance our natural world. The proposed targets cover water, air quality and the diversity of our wildlife, including:

  • Improving the health of our rivers by reducing nutrient pollution and contamination from abandoned metal mines in water courses and improving water use efficiency; and
  • Cleaning up our air through a target to reduce exposure to the most harmful air pollutant to human health – PM2.5 – by over a third compared to 2018 levels; and
  • Halting the decline in our wildlife populations through a legally binding target for species abundance by 2030 with a requirement to increase species populations by 10% by 2042.

Other targets include halving the waste that ends up at landfill or incineration by 2042, increasing total tree cover by 3% by 2050, and significant improvements in the condition of Marine Protected Areas by 2042.

The Government also say:

  • The new targets on water quality will tackle the most significant pressures on the water environment and help unlock the most serious challenges to clean up England’s rivers and support wider ambitions under the Water Framework Directive, and in the 25 Year Environment Plan for clean and plentiful water.
  • Targets to cut air pollutant PM2.5 will reduce exposure to the most harmful air quality across the country and in locations where levels are highest, with a 50% cut in acceptable levels going well above and beyond previous EU targets while remaining achievable.
  • The Environment Act puts a key focus on driving forward nature’s recovery and the Government is also setting out new proposals in a Nature Recovery Green Paper which will support ambitions to restore nature and halt the decline in species abundance by 2030.

To make the processes clearer and more certain for all users, with more consistency in how we protect our nature sites. A rationalised legal framework, supported by local expertise and scientific judgement, will enable our regulators to be confident in making conservation decisions most appropriate for each site and ultimately ensure a better, more coherent protected site system. This could include new streamlined types of protected area, reducing the overlapping types of designation for nature sites, such as Sites of Special Scientific Interest, Special Areas of Conservation and Ramsar sites so that the public and stakeholders can see at a glance what’s protected and why.

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