Conservation charities call for public’s views on ‘catastrophic’ government policy

The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB), the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and the National Trust have launched a joint campaign to improve public involvement in UK policy debates around nature.

The charities’ People’s Plan for Nature campaign is inviting people to share their ideas on protecting the environment and develop a set of policies to be handed to Prime Minister Liz Truss and environment secretary Ranil Jayawardena.

This follows concerns from conservation charities over current government environmental policy, in particular the government's support in last week’s mini-budget for the expansion of fossil fuel and fracking as well as relaxing of planning laws in 38 ‘investment zones’ across England.

Following the mini-budget the RSPB, National Trust and Wildlife Trusts criticised Chancellor of the Exchequer Kwasi Kwarteng’s investment zone plans. They also fear the government will abandon a scheme to reward farmers who protect nature.

“This government, elected on their greenest ever manifesto, is now contemplating breaking its promises on vital protections for the UK’s nature, risking catastrophic consequences,” said the three chief executives, National Trust’s Hilary McGRady, RSPB’s Beccy Speight and WWF’s Tanya Steele in a joint statement.

“From abandoning fundamental legal protections for wildlife to failing farmers committed to sustainable agriculture, this would be an attack on nature at the worst possible time.

“The desire to defend nature unites people in every community from Caerphilly to Cumbria, Antrim to Aberdeen, and we must all be part of the conversation about how we protect and restore it. Today’s People’s Plan For Nature is vital for us all to have our voices heard – nature has never needed us more.”

The charities are urging people to submit their views online before October 30. In addition, the public will be invited to add their ideas via a network of tree installations at art centres and National Trust venues.

To promote the campaign the charities have released the results of a survey showing that more than eight in ten adults believe nature is under threat.

Half said they are will to take action themselves, but 42% say they do not feel empowered to do so.

Action to clean up rivers, waterways and seas is the top priority among the public, followed by greater legal protection for nature, particularly in the planning system.

Funding to ensure farmland is nature friendly and the creation of more wildlife reserves are among other priorities, according to the survey of more than 8,500 adults.

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