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Natural England Says ‘We Need to Rise to Challenge of Climate Change’ 29/10/07

Natural England, which is one year old, was established with a wide-ranging environmental remit and the responsibility for safeguarding England’s natural environment.

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Sir Martin Doughty, Chair of Natural England said: “In a challenging year, much has been achieved for the wildlife, landscapes and communities of England. I would like to thank our volunteers, partners, stakeholders and members of the public, who have shown constant determination to create a greener future for England.

“The challenge for Natural England now is to find new solutions to the environmental issues of the 21st century, most notably leading the drive to adapt to the consequences of a changing climate and providing guidance on how best, in our crowded island, we make space for biodiversity, for flood management, for agriculture, for development and for people.”

Highlights so far include:

  • Securing an additional 33,500 ha (2.3%) of Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs) in favourable or recovering condition, bringing the total to 75.4%.
  • Initiating programmes to create or restore 32,400 ha of BAP priority habitat, such as the Great Fen project which is restoring important wildlife habitat by creating a 3,700 hectare wetland between Huntingdon and Peterborough.
  • Delivering advice to Government on the best way of improving access to the English coastline, which has now been accepted.
  • Halving the turnaround times for processing valid Entry Level Stewardship applications and bringing 4.13 million hectares into the Environmental Stewardship scheme, an increase of more than 2 million hectares during the year. This means more than half the total agricultural land area in England is now providing environmental benefits.

Vital work

Hilary Benn, Secretary of State for Environment said: “The Government established Natural England to take forward conservation of our rich and much loved natural environment. It is fantastic to see the variety of work Natural England have become involved in, from wildlife conservation campaigns to their advice to Government on public access to our coastlines.

“I am determined that we continue to work together to meet the challenges ahead. Natural England will be spending nearly £3 billion on Environmental Stewardship schemes to help farmers improve biodiversity, water quality and to tackle climate change. We have also asked them to develop a strong network of marine protected areas to conserve our rich marine wildlife.

“All of this work is vital and I congratulate Natural England on what they’ve achieved in the last twelve months and greatly look forward to working with them in the months and years ahead.”

A greener future

Dr Helen Phillips, Chief Executive of Natural England, said: “In our first year, we have established our reputation as the Government’s independent advisor on the natural environment.

“We championed the need for the Government to take action to help the country adapt to fifty years of climate change that are now unavoidable, we have won a commitment from Government to establish a network of Marine Protected Areas to safeguard the life beneath our seas, and our advice on opening up England's spectacular coastline has been accepted.

“We will continue to work with our partners, customers and the public to build a broader environmental coalition to help shape a greener future for the people and nature of this country."

link Benn Beefs Up Climate Change Bill
link F.A.B - Farmland Birds Are Go!
link Set-Aside Decision Risks Environmental Harm

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