Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Message to MPs on the Natural Environment White Paper

Last year DEFRA led a public consultation on a new Natural Environment White Paper and at the time I wrote several blogs on its background. (See my blog posts around September 2010 on

There were a record number of responses to this (around 15,000) giving an overwhelming message to government that people value their natural environment.

Since then DEFRA have been preparing this White Paper and it is now due to be published in June. Several of our Sussex MPs have been active in defending the environment in the past and we now call on them all to exert pressure to secure a bold and ambitious White Paper. This should build on the existing protection system and drive nature’s recovery.

I have therefore written to all our MPs asking them to support the White Paper in parliament.

The Wildlife Trusts initiated the call for a White Paper as we believe England needs a new
Nature Act to create the impetus for significant restoration of habitats and ecological processes on a landscape scale. The White Paper should lay the foundations for the establishment of Ecological Restoration Zones and new Local Nature Partnerships to help drive this process. The key functions of these Partnerships would be to:

  • Identify zones for ecological restoration. These should enhance existing landscapes restore the processes that drive ecosystem health and should restore and create new areas of habitat. They should also conserve and enhance nationally and locally important wildlife sites as well as take action for priority species;

  • Integrate land management policies, incentives and decision-making locally to ensure the provision of key ecosystem services, such as clean water, food, flood protection and control of our climate on which we all depend;

  • Work with local authorities to identify ecological networks as part of the Local Plan;

  • Inspire individuals and communities to get involved and take action to improve the quality of their local environment.

We believe that dynamic, credible Local Nature Partnerships, supported by civil society, have an important contribution to make to drive nature’s recovery. The Government should champion their role, as they have done for Local Enterprise Partnerships, indeed Local Nature Partnerships should be considered at least as important as Local Enterprise Partnerships.

We’ll see what our MPs say in response to this letter and maybe I’ll reproduce some of the more significant statements in a later blog.

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