NATURAL ENVIRONMENT WHITE PAPER – BIRMINGHAM FRIENDS OF THE EARTH REACTION
Birmingham Friends of the Earth Press Release
Embargo: For immediate release, Tuesday 7 June 2011
Contact: Joe Peacock, 0121 6326909 email@example.com
Bolder action is needed to protect nature at home and abroad if the Government is to deliver on its pledge of being the “greenest ever”, Friends of the Earth is warning today (Tuesday 7 June 2011) following the launch of the Natural Environment White Paper.
The green campaigning charity welcomed proposed measures to protect wildlife sites and green spaces but said they were too little or too vague to safeguard the huge economic value of nature and the social and health benefits it brings.
The group is calling for changes in Government policy to prevent environmental damage in the UK and abroad – and urging every department across Whitehall to play its part in building a greener, prosperous and wildlife-rich future.
Birmingham Friends of the Earth campaigner Joe Peacock said “Putting nature’s economic value at the heart of government policy makes sound financial sense – our green spaces are worth billions in keeping us healthy and happy, and protecting them goes hand in hand with building a greener economy.
“Schemes that offset environmental damage by protecting wildlife sites elsewhere may have a role to play in protecting nature in future – but they are no substitute for preventing damage in the first place.
“We would hope that local politicians will also bear this in mind with regards to future development sites and ensure that housing, commercial and transport plans within the emerging Core Strategy focus on the most sustainable locations and minimising their environmental impact.”
1. The Natural Environment White Paper, ‘The Natural Choice’, is the first of its kind in twenty years. The Government calls it “an opportunity to change the way we think about and manage the natural environment, seeing it as a system and valuing the services it gives us.” It can be downloaded from: http://www.archive.defra.gov.uk/environment/natural/documents/newp-white-paper-110607.pdf
2. The Government also published today its response to Professor Sir John Lawton’s independent review of England’s wildlife sites and ecological network, ‘Making Space for Nature’. See: http://www.defra.gov.uk/environment/natural/whitepaper/.
3. Friends of the Earth is pushing for the UK to commit to reducing the UK’s footprint on the natural environment overseas, cutting greenhouse gas emissions and protecting natural resources like soil and water. Action includes:
* Leading reform of Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) at EU level to provide better financial support for planet-friendly farming, that meets mandatory environmental standards, and benefits small-scale and organic farming, crop rotation, upland grazing and the production of home-grown animal feed to reduce the UK’s reliance on environmentally damaging imports of soy: http://www.foe.co.uk/campaigns/biodiversity/press_for_change/fix_the_cap_30282.html;
* Providing clear Government guidance for consumers on reducing meat and dairy consumption to for health and environmental reasons – the benefits of which were identified in a recent government report on the Future of Food and Farming:http://www.bis.gov.uk/assets/bispartners/foresight/docs/food-and-farming/11-547-future-of-food-and-farming-summary.pdf;
* Changes to government procurement to ensure that its food buying standards for central and local government, hospitals, schools and care homes include a commitment to less but better quality meat and dairy.
* Scrapping high biofuels targets which are driving deforestation and support greener transport alternatives to driving such as better public transport and more walking and cycling:http://www.foe.co.uk/campaigns/biodiversity/press_for_change/biofuels_uk_30778.html.
4. Friends of the Earth welcomed a ground-breaking study published by Defra last week in which UK scientists placed a value on nature for the first time. Friends of the Earth called the UK National Ecosystems Assessment “essential summer reading for all MPs and economists.”http://www.foe.co.uk/resource/press_releases/uk_nea_02062011.html
5. Birmingham Friends of the Earth campaigns on many environmental issues on a local, national and international level. They hold regular campaigns meetings on Monday evenings at 7.30pm: https://birminghamfoe.org.uk/