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Wildlife friendly farming survives environmental cuts


The RSPB has welcomed Governments decision to safeguard wildlife friendly farming schemes in the face of wider environmental cuts.

In todays Comprehensive Spending Review, the chancellor George Osborne announced a cut to the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs of 8% per annum over 4 years.

However details released by the department reveal that the Higher Level Scheme (HLS), which helps farmers create environmental measures to protect threatened farmland birds and other wildlife, has been saved from the axe. HLS has been prioritised and extra European funding has been found to fill the gap, and help the scheme grow by 80 per cent.

RSPB director of conservation Mark Avery said: Environment secretary Caroline Spelman has done a good job in defending wildlife friendly farming against the worst of the cuts.

Those who care for our natural environment have made their voices heard on this issue more than 314,000 people have signed up to our Letter to the Future campaign, activists have been busy lobbying ministers in their constituencies and sending tens of thousands of emails expressing their opinion.

The message from our members and the wider public has been loud and clear and the Government has clearly taken notice of public concern for wildlife. It is great to know that a lot of hard work being done by farmers to create habitats for lapwings, stone curlews, corn buntings and other threatened species will continue.

However wider environmental spending has taken a big hit today with Defras overall 33 per cent cut representing the second worst settlement of any department.   This will inevitably affect its ability to support wildlife.  Organisations like the Environment Agency and Natural England will be considerably smaller and there will be less money available to spend on conservation projects aimed at halting the decline in biodiversity in this country.

The Government still has a long way to go to prove it can be the greenest government ever, so it is vital we kick start a public debate on how nature conservation is to be funded in the future. There are many innovative ideas including conservation credits systems and a great role for the private sector and communities but the political will needs to be there to make these happen.

The RSPB speaks out for birds and wildlife, tackling the problems that threaten our environment. Nature is amazing – help us keep it that way. Click here to join today 

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