an overview of the Government's Natural Environment White Paper

This is an overview of the Government's Natural Environment White Paper:

A strong, vibrant natural environment is vital to the protection of the nation’s health, economy and security. Society benefits from the natural environment through ecosystem services, such as the production of food and drinking water, the extraction of minerals for commercial use and natural flood defences. However, as man-made demands on the environment grow, new, more advanced systems of utilising land must be found.

In June 2011, the government released the Natural Environment White Paper, setting out their environmental priorities for the next 50 years. The White Paper contains proposals for new initiatives including the creation of Local Nature Partnerships and Nature Improvement Areas. Local Nature Partnerships will work alongside Local Enterprise Zones to promote the green economy. A central theme throughout the White Paper is the decentralisation of environmental policy. The government intends to create Local Green Areas to empower communities to protect their local environments.

Alongside the Natural Environment White Paper, the government has also published their response to Professor Sir John Lawton’s Review – Making Space for Nature. Lawton’s review sets out 24 recommendations to achieve a ‘coherent and resilient ecological network.' The government have built on Lawton’s findings in the White Paper, announcing plans to create an independent National Capital Committee that will measure the value of the natural environment and how it contributes to the wider economy.”

These views are supported by the following illustrious organisations:

·         WWF-UK
·         Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
·         Natural Enterprise
·         Environment and Housing Board, Local Government Association
·         Natural England
·         Infrastructure Planning Commission
·         Technology Strategy Board
·         National Farmers Union
·         Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council
·         Grantham Institute for Climate Change

Funny how here in Broadland we have seen a headlong rush to support new proposals and fora to support wholesale development but we are somehow reluctant to become involved in the Local Nature Partnerships that this White Paper talks about.  Your choice I guess - development or countryside!


  1. Very interesting. Could this be why the MEMBER led South Norfolk District Council are now consultating with their residents as to where THEY want the extra houses sited. Meetings are being chaired by their local MP's and the consultation carries on until November 18th. What a pity our OFFICER and Developer led Council at Broadland could not consultant in the same Democratic way instead of just telling us where THEY are going to put the houses

  2. Who saw the Countryfile programme last night where they highlighted the urgent need to SAVE OUR FARMLAND for food production. Pity Broadland and the GNDP cannot look a bit further than helping their Developer friends to make their millions. Is it true that Broadland (or we as the taxpayers) are now buying the land for the Exemplar stage of the Ecotown from the Garman landowner ? If you want to see what the high density Ecotown will look like go and have a look at the new houses being built at Tesco's in Sprowston.

  3. Countryfile is getting really good these days. Another good programme was on Channel 4 last Monday, about the bad effect on the human brain of Britain's sub-standard new housing "The Secret Life of Buildings".

    On a related topic, I am writing an Objection to the Incinerator in King's Lynn, and thanks to SNUB and the Newmarket court case have discovered there is no SEA (Strategic Enviromental Assessment). Looking for an example of an SEA, I found one by NCC for the Local Transport Initiative. It is out of date, so amongst other things the map of Natura 2000 sites is incomplete - but it is an attempt to do things properly. However it comes a cropper on the Fauna and Flora monitoring. The lists of Fauna and Flora are held by various bodies like Natural England, local Wildlife Trusts, other local record centres, and above all Biodiversity Action Plan centres (BAPs).

    Just to give you an idea of what has to be continuously monitored in one tiny area of one section only (Fauna) of an SEA, here is the list of species on which the Environment Agency hold information for one category of habitat only (Chalk Rivers):
    The Environment Agency is the lead for the following BAP:
    HABITAT: Chalk Rivers
    SPECIES: - Allis shad, Alosa alosa; Arctic charr, Salvelinus alpinus; Brook lamprey, Lampetra Planeri; Brown / sea trout, Salmo trutta; Bullhead, Cottus gobio; European Eel, Anguilla Anguilla; Freshwater pearl mussel, Margaritifera margaritifera; Gwyniad, Coregonus pennantii; River lamprey, Lampetra Fluviatilis; Salmon, Salmo Salar; Schelly, Coregonus stigmaticus; Sea lamprey, Petromyzon Marinus; Smelt (Sparling), Osmerus eperlanus; Spined loach, Cobitis Taenia; Stag beetle, Lucanus cervus; Stary stonewort, Nitellopsis obtuse; Twaite shad, Alosa fallax; White fish, Coregonus Albula; White-Clawed Crayfish, Austropotamobius pallipes; Whitefish (Powan, Gwyniad or Schelly), Coregonus lavaretus)

    The SEA needs to record and monitor the condition of all the species in all the Habitats, and at the same time identify the "likely significant effects" of the plan AND reasonable alternatives to the plan. The "likely significant effects" must include short, medium and long-term effects, permanent and temporary effects, positive and negative effects, and secondary, cumulative and synergistic effects - so that is 10 headings for each species. And it has to be done for reasonable alternatives to the plan in question.

    All this would take so long, it would need updating by the time it is finished. This is not as ridiculous as it sounds - the intention of the law is stop development dead in its tracks, because development threatens life as we know it and is fast becoming considered a crime by many humans, although it is not a crime in law (yet) apart from in the EU where it is a crime to breach certain environmental Directives.

    There needs to be a separate SEA for all plans or projects needing an SEA (housing forming part of an LDF, Waste Disposal projects, the list is long and only an indication). All will have different "likely significant effects".

    Well, one good thing is, there will be a lot of jobs on SEAs for young naturalists and environmentalists, so come on NCC, start doing the SEAs properly and at least you will cut the unemployment figures. A lot of existing staff might like to transfer out of office work into lower paid but more interesting work outdoors. Of course the development still won't go ahead, but at least some use will come of this - whereas if the development does go ahead there will be no jobs and lots of damage.