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Statement from our CEO on proposed changes to environmental legislation

Mark Lloyd, CEO of The Rivers Trust, responds to recent government proposals on changing environmental legislation

Rebecca Duncan


The Rivers Trust joins other environmental charities in expressing its dismay that the government is abandoning its promises for nature.

We are extremely distressed to hear the government may be considering abandoning its Environmental Land Management Scheme for agriculture, abolishing environmental regulations, and allowing unfettered development in investment zones. The proposals being discussed would drive a coach and horses through the government’s own 25-year Environment Plan and its manifesto commitments. Far from being beneficial to business and economic growth, they would severely damage the sustainability of the country’s economy and the wellbeing of future generations.

Environmental Land Management Scheme

The Rivers Trust has been providing significant input to the development of the new post-EU agricultural payments scheme, which presented a significant opportunity to link up these payments with natural flood management, nature restoration, and pollution prevention initiatives. If the scheme doesn’t go ahead, it will be a major setback for the government’s manifesto commitment to leave the environment in a better state for the next generation. What’s more, it will cause havoc for farmers across the country who want to improve their land use practices, and have begun to do so ahead of its implementation.

Environmental Regulations

The Retained EU Law (Revocation and Reform) Bill could see hundreds of environmental laws repealed with terrible consequences for wildlife in a country which is already one of the most nature-depleted on earth. These laws – even though they are poorly enforced and implemented at present – are vital to protect biodiversity and water supply, both of which are essential to businesses and the economy. Many of these regulations protect businesses and communities suffering from the actions of polluters and others. Weakening them would cause major additional costs for those affected and create great uncertainty.

Planning reform

The Planning and Infrastructure Bill proposals would weaken environmental planning rules in “Investment Zones” around the country. Planning controls already fail to protect the environment from development in all cases – as the proliferation of chicken farms in the upper River Wye has shown – and therefore any attempt to weaken them further in great swathes of investment zones across the country poses a severe threat to habitats and species that are already struggling.

We urge the government to discuss urgently with environmental NGOs and others how we can develop collaborative plans to achieve sustainable economic growth while restoring the health of our natural environment. Each is dependent on the other.

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