Natural England proposes legislation to improve access to England’s
Natural England Press Release 14 Feb
Natural England proposals for
improving access to the English coast. Subject to the approval of its
Board on 21 February, Natural England looks set to advise the Government
to introduce legislation to create a new right of public access to
England’s coastline along a continuous access corridor.
Comprehensive rights do not currently
exist, making access to the coastline difficult, or creating a
stop-start effect, in many parts of the country. Since it was created
last October, Natural England has re-consulted stakeholders and analysed
Sir Martin Doughty, Chair of Natural
England said: “We are minded to advise the Government to provide Natural
England with the powers to deliver a new right of access to the coast.
My Board will be recommended to approve proposals to create clear and
well managed public access along the entire 4000 km length of England’s
coast. Where existing access works well, we won’t intervene.”
Sir Martin continued, “We want to
ensure the right balance between national momentum and local
flexibility. Our solution would provide the public with continuous
access along the length of the undeveloped English coast and land
managers with the opportunity to be involved in designing sensible local
solutions. We also want to enhance the coastal environment for both
wildlife and the public. This integrated solution exemplifies why
Natural England was created in the first place.”
A full copy of the proposals that will
be considered by Natural England’s Board can be found on
Threat That Landowners Will Receive no Compensation
in Coastal Access Report
Country Land & Business Association
Press release 14 Feb 2007
In response to the report by Natural
England Improving Coastal Access, David Fursdon, President of the
Country Land & Business Association (CLA) said:
"The danger that there will be no
compensation to landowners where their property is used for public
access under these proposals seems draconian. In creating any new
legislation provision there should be a presumption of compensation
paid where a loss is shown. There also seems to be few safeguards for
land managers which exist in existing public access legislation.
"Whilst the CLA is heartened that
managers and owners of coastal land will be involved in any access
arrangements and there is an ability for local solutions to be found,
the devil will surely be in the detail so we will be watching
developments every closely.
He added: "Existing access
arrangements to English coastal areas already attracts 70 million
visitors per year but of these only 9% walk for longer than an hour or
for more than 2 miles. CLA asks where is the public demand and what is
the value in spending up to £50m of tax payers' money? Providing
access alone does not increase the number of visitors to rural areas
or boost the rural economy; the Government's own English Day Visitor
survey shows a 33% fall in day visit in 2005.
Natural England takes wrong turning on coastal access
NFU Press Release 14 Feb 2007
Natural England’s plans for creating
a statutory right of access to coastal land have been sharply
criticised by the NFU as being a recipe for confrontation and
The Government’s recently formed
conservation advisory body has recommended that a coastal access
corridor should be created around the whole of the undeveloped English
coast, other than where good quality access already exists. It is
arguing against compensation to landowners, despite the fact that
there is no provision in the proposals as they stand for land to be
closed off for short periods - during lambing, for example - as there
is under the access to open country legislation.
The NFU argues that this is the
wrong approach, and that increased coastal access could be achieved
more speedily and with much less controversy and confrontation through
local solutions put together by local partnerships.
NFU Deputy President Meurig Raymond
commented: “We share Natural England’s aspiration of improving access
to the coastline, but we firmly believe that this should be achieved
by agreement rather than by imposition. These proposals, which appear
to take no account at all of entirely justifiable agricultural
concerns, can only generate conflict and confrontation, when what we
should be cultivating is co-operation and consent.
“It is a great pity that Natural
England should embark on a course of action which, as they must know,
risks miring an issue as sensitive and important as increasing access
to the coastline in unnecessary controversy. We think that this is the
wrong way to go and we will continue to make that very clear both to
Natural England and the Government.”
urged to create coastal corridor
14 Feb 2007
Some of Britain's most vociferous outdoor
groups, including the Ramblers' Association (RA), the British Canoe
Union, British Mountaineering Council, and the Open Spaces Society
urged the government to grant inclusive access rights along the coast.
The group called for a coastal zone which could generate income for
local communities and help protect the coast against the impact of
climate change and rising sea-levels.
island nation and the coast is a precious part of our heritage, yet
access to it is patchy at best. There's no right to walk on the
foreshore between mean and high tides, so even a child building a
sandcastle may technically be trespassing," said Kate Ashbrook, chair
of the Ramblers Association.
Dykes can no longer stem the
EU Press Release14 Feb 2007
Building dykes is no longer enough to
hold back rising water levels in low-lying countries. The authorities
have managed to keep rivers in a straitjacket for years, but now they
are threatening to burst out of it. To avoid serious damage, we have to
allow the water more space, and allow controlled flooding. Temporary
water storage can be an excellent combination with nature conservation
and recreational usage. This is the key message of the Best Practice
Manual (www.frameproject.eu ),
the manual presented by the transnational government project FraME at
its closing conference in Antwerp, following a four years’ intensive
In densely-populated regions like
ours, it is advisable to combine various types of land use.
Traditionally, agriculture, nature development and recreation had not
been linked to controlled flooding areas. An unjustified approach,
according to the Best Practice Manual produced by FRaME. By dividing
up the available space creatively, walkers and nature-lovers can enjoy a
beautiful area that increases protection against flooding.
FRaME has supported the following five
projects. In the Netherlands, the Zuiderklip project converted former
agricultural polders into a water containment area with nature and
recreational facilities. In the Noordrand Goeree-Overflakkee project,
FRaME has demonstrated that containing surplus water can be combined
with provision of water supplies and the establishment of ecological
connecting zones. In the Belgian area of Kruibeke-Bazel-Rupelmonde,
water can now flood in a controlled manner, to contain storm floods from
the River Scheldt. Around the River IJzer, FRaMe is exploiting the
attractiveness of water for both wildlife (birds) and people. In the
United Kingdom (Alkborough Flats project), an area previously used for
intensive agriculture has been allowed to flood (water from the River
Humber) to make it a nature reserve (see the entry in the WN
Rewilding Project Database).
All the experience with these projects and solutions has now been
compiled into the Best Practice Manual (www.frameproject.eu).
Pictures of all the FRaME
demonstration sites are available on
President Barroso recognises biodiversity conservation is a vital part of
the debate on the future of Europe
Birdlife International News 12 Feb
The President of the European
Commission José Manuel Barroso today gave a strong statement about the
importance of biodiversity conservation in Europe at a meeting with
representatives from BirdLife International, where a new report
-“Wellbeing Through Wildlife in the EU”, for which the President wrote
the foreword - was launched.
The President congratulated BirdLife
on the publication of the report and emphasised the need to effectively
communicate – through real life examples - the positive impact of
biodiversity conservation on society and Europe’s future.
The EU has committed to halt the loss
of wildlife (biodiversity) across the EU by 2010, which Mr Barroso
concedes has been extensive. He states in the foreword: “Biodiversity
loss, and the consequent decline of ecosystem services, is a grave
threat to our societies and economies.”
The President further underlined that
joint action for biodiversity is “a vital, and indeed vitalising, part
of the debate on the future of Europe” and is an area where cooperation
at EU level has “real added value”, for example through the
establishment of the Natura 2000 network of conservation areas, which he
sees as one of the key tools of the EU to achieve the 2010 target.
The new BirdLife report highlights
(through 26 concrete case studies from across Europe) the importance of
biodiversity for the health, quality of life and prosperity of all EU
citizens. It shows how long term economic development relies on
environmental resources and functioning ecosystems, how access to green
space improves physical and mental health and how education in the
natural environment benefits current and future generations.
The report (2Mb PDF) can be downloaded
concerns prompt study
BBC News Online 9 Feb 2007
A six-month monitoring period will be carried out on wild
boar in Devon. The
decision was taken at a public meeting organised by Buckland Monachorum
Parish Council, following growing concern
at several boar, including a sow and her
young, being spotted near
Buckland Monachorum and Roborough.
Charlie Wilson from Natural England told the meeting the
creatures are not generally aggressive, although
sows would react to protect their young if they
felt threatened.S ome walkers have reported
their dogs being threatened, and there is also
concern about the damage the animals are causing to grazing land.
The monitoring will be jointly carried out by Natural
England, Dartmoor National Park Authority and
'countryside' map of UK seas
Natural England 7 Feb 2007
A two-year project has resulted in the first marine
landscape maps for the whole of the UK sea area. Far less is known about
our seas than is known about our land. Surveying underwater landscapes is
difficult and until now sea maps have been restricted to small, detailed
areas that are few and far between.
The new maps give a more complete picture, showing 44
large-scale marine landscapes that reflect the equivalent of mountains,
valleys and plains of the marine environment, together with major habitat
types. The classification also includes estuaries and bays on the coast,
sandbanks and pinnacles offshore and seamounts in our deep seas.
The UK SeaMap project, part-funded by Defra, is a
partnership of ten organisations including Government Departments,
agencies, advisers and conservation charities. The work was undertaken by
marine specialists with the Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC).
PDF copies of the marine landscapes map and the full report
as well as pictures to illustrate some examples of the habitats that occur
in different marine landscapes are available from the Natural England
Press Office. Further details, including a web mapping application showing
the outputs from the project, can be found at
grab prompts fury
The Observer 4 Feb 2007
Douglas Tompkins, who calls himself a
'deep ecologist', is a millionaire buying up some of Argentina's last
frontier lands to preserve them from human encroachment and turning them
into ecological reserves.
Tompkins, 63, believes that unless
runaway consumerism is halted, 'we humans will be building ourselves a
beautiful coffin in space called planet Earth'. Opponents are branding
him a new-age 'imperialist gringo' and claim he has a secret aim: to
help the US military gain control of the country's natural resources.
Argentinians are uncomfortable with
Tompkins transforming his properties into environmentally pristine but
unpopulated and economically unproductive areas.
Tompkins and his wife, Kristine
McDivitt, a former CEO of the Patagonia clothing retail chain, first
went to Ibera in the late 1990s. After being initially unimpressed -
'it's as flat as a billiard table' - they eventually succumbed to the
challenge, putting the accent on restoring the original wildlife.
'Wetlands are not up there in the
collective human mind, they get very poor conservation protection, but
there is an enchantment in every ecosystem,' said Tompkins. 'The land
has been environmentally degraded and many of the indigenous animals
have disappeared,' he went on. 'We've started with the marsh deer.
Eventually we'll be able to reintroduce the jaguar, the top of the food
Tompkins expects that in 15 to 20
years he could turn his Ibera estate into a national park. 'It can take
that long to generate a change in attitude. Tourism has to become a
'My intention has always been to
eventually turn over the land to the Argentinian government for a
national park.' He has already done so, donating an estate in Patagonia
to the National Parks administration in 2004.
Despite all the difficulties, Tompkins
is optimistic about converting opponents to his way of thinking. 'I see
an unstoppable wave of environmentalism. Environmental problems arise
from the mistaken notion that humans come first. They have to come
second. This has not sunk into the political and social leadership.'
should reject damaging wind farm proposal
RSPB Scotland 2 February 2007
RSPB Scotland has submitted a formal objection to Lewis
Wind Power's modified proposal to build a wind farm on Lewis, in the
Western Isles, because of the devastating impact it would have. The
Scottish Executive has been seeking comment on the developer's plans - but
from Monday the book is shut, and ministers should then decide whether
this project goes ahead.
Most of the development would be sited in a Special
Protection Area (SPA) that is protected under European law. Before
deciding that significant environmental impacts are acceptable, ministers
must be sure that there are no alternatives, and that
there are imperative reasons of overriding public interest which
justify serious damage to a protected site.
Having scrutinised the detail of their application, RSPB
Scotland remain concerned about the damaging impacts the development would
cause. The developer’s own environmental assessment identifies potential
for 600MW of onshore wind generation elsewhere on the Western Isles
outside the SPA, and of course many other suitable schemes can be found
elsewhere in Scotland. The number of jobs that the development could
support has also been challenged by independent experts.
No action after fox
killed at Royal shoot
EDP24 1 February 2007
Nobody will face prosecution over the
killing of a fox during a Royal shooting party.
The RSPCA launched an investigation
after a photographer captured images of a fox apparently being beaten
with a large stick and after being shot. The animal had strayed into the
middle of a pheasant shoot led by the Duke of Edinburgh.
An RSPCA spokeswoman said:
“We have investigated and concluded there are no grounds for a
prosecution. An independent post mortem examination was carried out and
found that the fox died from gunshot wounds and no evidence of other
injury or trauma was found. The only witness who could have supported
the reported version of events refused to give a statement.”
Last November, a gamekeeper on the
Sandringham estate was fined £500 for illegally using a trap in which an
owl was caught.
Research shows public support for badger cull
Farming Online 1 Feb 2007
Research of public opinion by the NFU has found that a
clear majority of the British public would support a legal cull of
infected badgers if the government judged it necessary to bring bovine
tuberculosis under control.
The research was conducted last autumn by independent
consultants England Marketing, among four focus groups drawn from members
of the public with no connection either with farming or with wildlife
conservation groups in Carmarthen, Bristol, Preston and Cannock.
a legal cull of infected badgers was found
amongst 74 per cent , with 26 per cent against. Around two thirds
of those interviewed were aware cattle can contract TB, and 58 per cent of
them knew the disease can be spread to cattle by badgers.
The focus groups were When asked
by the researchers whether it would make any difference to the likelihood
of their buying British food if farmers were themselves involved in
culling badgers, as part of a government-led strategy,
84 per cent - it would make no difference with
only 5 per cent saying it would make it
more likely, and 11 per cent less likely.
There were no marked differences in view between the more
urban focus groups and the more rural ones.
Commenting on the research results, NFU deputy president
Meurig Raymond said that the findings showed that neither the government
nor farmers need fear a public backlash if a targeted cull of diseased
badgers was introduced to help bring TB under control.
Defra has launched a consultation on its long-term vision for marine
Defra news release 1 Feb
A sustainable fisheries sector is essential
for delivering the Government’s vision of “clean, healthy, safe,
productive and biologically diverse oceans and seas”. Fish and shellfish
are a valuable resource shared between communities, regions and nations:
we all have a role in making sure that they are used sustainably. This
means getting the best possible economic and social benefits from fishing
for the least environmental cost – including safeguarding stocks for the
The consultation paper - Fisheries 2027:
towards a contract for the future of marine fisheries - sets out Defra’s
vision of this sector in 20 years’ time. Defra wants this paper to move
all involved towards a contract for the future of marine fisheries which
make it clear what we are all trying to
set out the relative priorities of delivering
economic and social benefits and protecting the environment
explain the roles and responsibilities of
different stakeholders in achieving sustainability
This is the first example of an environmental
contract in practice.
The final version, which we plan to publish in
the summer, will set a clear direction for future fisheries policy.