The government’s Environment Bill takes the emergency out of climate emergency and is full of holes

As the Brexit skirmishes continue, it is easy to lose track of other important pieces of legislation struggling to get parliamentary time. One of those is the Environment Bill. The second reading of the bill on 23 October was abruptly cancelled to make way for the Withdrawal Agreement Bill. That’s ironic as a large part of the Environment Bill is concerned with reinstating the environmental protection the UK will lose if it ceases to a member of the EU. The bill aims for a lot more, including a deposit return scheme for drinks containers, measures to improve air quality, and rules to ensure biodiversity net gain from housing and some other developments.

It’s a great forward looking bill. At least, that’s what ministers say. In practice the bill is colander bill. It is full of holes. It fails to incorporate the principle of non-regression into law. It sets 2037 as the earliest date for any environmental targets and those targets are at the behest of ministers. It allows environmental policies to be watered down by ministers at a whim, including the target for biodiversity gain. It is a bill that takes the emergency out of the climate emergency. Continue reading “The government’s Environment Bill takes the emergency out of climate emergency and is full of holes”

Hedgehog highways and swift bricks must be installed in new developments, ministers say as they rush out announcements

New national planning guidance published on Sunday by communities secretary James Brokenshire orders developers to do more to protect wildlife. Ludlow Swift Group will welcome his insistence that developers install swift bricks in new homes. Pricklebums Hedgehog Rescue and the British Hedgehog Preservation Society will welcome the obligation for developers to install hedgehog highways. There is more to this guidance which strengthens requirements for developers and councils to seek a net gain in biodiversity when developments are built.

This is a welcome announcement but there is wriggle room in the guidance and a lot will depend on local interpretation. Wildlife groups and communities will need to lobby Shropshire Council to ensure that its forthcoming local plan has the strongest measures possible to protect and enhance biodiversity. Those measures might include a “greening factor”.

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Alice the Dodo is going to the climate emergency protest at Shirehall on Thursday – are you?

The dodo was once a flightless bird. Now it is little more than a legend and the butt of jokes. That happened after western colonisation of Mauritius introduced predators, including humans who shot the helpless bird. Fast forward to 2019. A UN panel warns that we face a biodiversity crisis with a million species in threat of extinction. Last month, CO2 levels in the atmosphere reached a level not seen since humans existed. It is time to declare a climate emergency and Shropshire Council will do that on Thursday. My fear is that the council will adopt a motion that slaps itself on the back and declares business as usual. We need urgent action not token gestures.

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International experts say we are heading towards a global biodiversity emergency. We must act in Shropshire – now

Look around you. Trees are being felled. Hedges grubbed out. Arable fields are too often growing a monoculture crop boosted by chemicals. Biodiversity is the loser. As will be humanity if we continue this way.

Few of us have heard of the body that published a technical report on the loss and threat to all manner of species today. But that doesn’t make the report from the Intergovernmental Science Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) any less important. It is one of the most important environmental reports of this decade. It states bluntly that almost all environmental indicators show the health of nature is decreasing. Biodiversity is dying.

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Desiccation and damage threaten wildlife at Shropshire Council’s Eco Park in Ludlow

I visit Ludlow’s Eco Park almost every day. It should be Ludlow’s flagship business area but I am growing angry about the lousy way that Shropshire Council manages the site for safety and for wildlife.

The main ecological problem right now is the drying out of the main flood water retention pond. Shropshire Council is making water retention worse by mowing around the pond as though it is in a suburban housing estate. The next problem may sound minor. It’s a hole in the fence surrounding the pond. But that allows dogs into the wildlife area.

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