Natural England is to receive an extra £15m this year – that’s quite good news.
There is a very witty photo of Natural England chair, Tony Juniper, looking at chicken feed in the article – priceless!
And the money is going to be spent on Natural England’s core duties such as SSSI condition, the planning system and licensing. In other words, the things that only a statutory conservation agency can do, and which it must do.
The extra cash is welcomed by a range of conservation voices: Natalie Bennett, the Wildlife Trusts, RSPB and by me. Peter Marren has, rightly, a swipe at DEFRA.
My printed quote is;
Well done, Tony, for getting back a small fraction of the money Defra has hacked out of Natural England over the past decade.
… as I recall, I went on to say …
And it looks as though the money is going to be spent on the right things. But it isn’t all about money, now Natural England has to grow a pair of balls and act like a proper environmental regulator.
I’m not so sure about licensing – surely Natural England should be charging people who want licences, eg to kill protected wildlife, for the cost of assessing their licence applications. We already know that licences to cull large gulls have been numerous, many of them late, and many of them with inadequate documentation and details and yet Natural England’s response has been to dedicate extra stadff to this area – why should the taxpayer pick up the bill for land managers’ incompetence?[registration_form]