Natural England to get small funding boost

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?


10 Replies to “Natural England to get small funding boost”

  1. We, the population, must have given this Government licence to cull Natural England. “Reports show there were 2,661 permanent staff at the organisation in 2007 compared with 1,786 in March last year”.

    You would think NE would be more empathetic; if they were I would vote for a full reinstatement of their pre 2010 budget.

    1. I would vote for a full reinstatement of that budget and indeed even raise it so it was the same value now as it was pre 2010. Then I would also insist that NE was also as it was pre 2010 entirely independent of voice and opinion. Currently it is not and indeed since the coalition it cannot breath in public without DEFRA say so. That is no way to run a instrument of independent advice to government but the Tories have never been happy with an independent view of the value of wildlife and habitats. I suspect that if NE had been entirely of independent thought we would not be lumbered with the dreadful Hen Harrier plan.
      On an entirely different note shouldn’t Nadine Dorries have been sacked for the reposting of those far right lies about Kier Starmer?

      1. Nadine Dorries has not even bothered to apologise as far as I know. She is a disgrace.

  2. The money will go on recruitment, staff fact finding workshops, salaries, expenses, pensions and endless reports with pretty graphs, which tell you f-all, other than they can use Microsoft Word.
    And I expect we’ll get another group of these gormless wonders, wandering about the farm on their day out jolly, telling us “haven’t you done well?”

    1. Oh for goodness sake Thomas. Given that staff numbers have been haemorrhaging of course some of the money will be spent on “recruitment,………., salaries, expenses, pensions”. Or have you got a better idea?

  3. Every little increase is welcome but I am sure the funding of Natural England is still just a pittance of what it was at the turn of the century. The Tory’s have whittle NE funding down and down in order to render them more or less incapable of acting independently in the way they should.
    By the way Mark is their any prospect of holding the Parliamentary debate on driven grouse shooting arising from your petition with 100, 000 signatures before last Christmas.

  4. The full cost of processing a licence should be charged with some extra tacked on as a “handling fee”. I’m sure every business-minded person would happily pay as it would mean that taxpayers money was not being wasted. Also if you make an utter mess of the paperwork then you pay for the extra staff time that it takes to sort out the mess.

    If that makes licences costly and uneconomic for the applicant then maybe you should not be shooting whatever is in the application in the first place.

  5. So NE has suffered an £180m budget cut since 2008 and Tony Juniper says: “We felt it would be necessary for us to get back to that kind of funding level [i.e. the £265m in 2007/8] in order for us to do what was needed to fully implement the government’s 25-year environment plan”.

    I’m sure neither Tony, nor the government need me to point out that, without taking account of inflation, it will take another 11 years of £15m increases to restore their funding to 2007/8 levels, by which time we’ll be half way through the 25-year plan! Given that our biodiversity continues to decline year on year and the causes of this are completely beyond NE’s control (and remit) it is as you say Mark just a ‘smidgen of good news’.

  6. I sippose it might be considered a little cynical to suggest a connection to Tory grandees being inconvenienced by an emasculated NE’s inability to cope with the fallout from Wild Justice’s increasingly effective legal challenges.

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