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Natural England: New champion for the environment launches (1 Viewer)

Chris Monk

Well-known member
New champion for the environment launches

Wednesday 11 October sees the official launch of Natural England, a new and powerful government agency that has been created to champion the natural environment.

The centrepiece of the launch will be the announcement of four major campaigns which go to the heart of Natural England’s purpose and will aim to inspire, motivate and engage people across England.

Natural England will, for the first time, unite in a single organisation responsibility for protecting and enhancing biodiversity and landscapes, as well as promoting greater access and recreation – helping people to enjoy more green spaces both in the countryside and urban environments.

Natural England will have wide-ranging responsibilities. As a delivery organisation, it will provide incentives to farmers and land managers to manage their land in a more environmentally friendly way. Natural England will also be a key regulator and the government’s independent watchdog to advise on how policies affect the natural environment.

The four campaigns will be a call to action. Each campaign addresses one of the critical challenges that face the natural environment. Common to all will be connecting people and the natural environment.

The campaigns will be launched over the next two months and will focus on protecting the marine environment, preventative health solutions, farmers’ stewardship of biodiversity and climate change; targets will include establishing a network of marine protected areas by 2012 and championing the provision of accessible green space within five minutes walk of every home.

Sir Martin Doughty, Chair of Natural England, said: “The creation of Natural England is a landmark moment for the natural environment. No other organisation in Europe matches the breadth of our legislative remit, and the scale of our challenge. By uniting responsibility for landscapes and biodiversity, Natural England will be working to build resilience into our natural systems in the face of climate change.”

Helen Phillips, Chief Executive of Natural England said: “Natural England is about four things: having a healthy natural environment, people’s enjoyment of the natural environment, sustainable use of our natural resources and a secure environmental future. We will be about the urban as well as rural environment and as much about tomorrow as we are about today.”

The Rt Hon David Miliband MP, Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, makes the keynote speech at Natural England’s launch event on Wednesday evening.


Notes to editors

1. Natural England was established by the Natural Environment and Rural Communities Act 2006. Its purpose is to ensure that the natural environment is conserved, enhanced and managed for the benefit of present and future generations, thereby contributing to sustainable development.

2. Natural England’s Strategic Direction 2006-09 sets out how it will deliver this purpose through incentives, advice and regulation. This identifies four strategic outcomes Natural England will seek to deliver: a healthy natural environment, enjoyment of the natural environment, sustainable use of the natural environment and a secure environmental future.

3. Natural England has been formed by bringing together English Nature, the landscape, access and recreation elements of the Countryside Agency and the environmental land management functions of the Rural Development Service.

4. Natural England has a budget of £500 million and employs 2500 people.

5. Natural England’s headquarters are based in Sheffield.

6. Details of Natural England’s four campaigns can be found in the attached backgrounder.

Further Press Information

Natural England: Contact Press Office on 07970 098 005 (24 hours) or Cherry Farrow on 07739 573932

For broadcast media, B roll available on Digicam, call Katy Darby on 020 7238 5676
 
New countryside body reveals aims

BBC News web site:

New countryside body reveals aims

Turning a new leaf: Natural England replaces English Nature
The new conservation watchdog Natural England has outlined four strategies that will be the focus of its work.

A healthy environment; enjoyment of green spaces; sustainable use of resources; and a secure future were key objectives, the agency said.

The new body is the result of English Nature merging with parts of the Countryside Agency and the Rural Development Service.

Rural campaigners fear it will lack the power and funding to make a difference.

Natural England was formed at the beginning of October, but will be officially unveiled at a launch event on Wednesday.

Chairman Sir Martin Doughty described the government-funded agency's formation as a "landmark moment for the natural environment".

"No other organisation in Europe matches the breadth of our legislative remit, and the scale of our challenge," Sir Martin said.

"By uniting responsibility for landscapes and biodiversity, Natural England will be working to build resilience into our natural systems in the face of climate change," he added.

The Sheffield-based organisation was established by the Natural Environment and Rural Communities (Nerc) Act 2006.

Environmental stewardship of farmland is part of the new remit

The legislation followed on from recommendations made in a report by Lord Haskins in 2003, which said the number of rural agencies was confusing and too bureaucratic.

He recommended merging some of the many different agencies for the countryside into a new integrated rural body.

As a result, former conservation watchdog English Nature merged with the landscape, access and recreation departments of the Countryside Agency, and the Rural Development Services' environmental land management teams to form the new body.

'Seriously weakened'

Natural England, which employs 2,500 people and has a budget of £500m, is responsible for ensuring that the "natural environment is conserved, enhanced and managed for the benefit of present and future generations, thereby contributing to sustainable development".

However, rural campaigners fear it lacks the funds and powers to make a difference.

"Savage cuts to its core funding mean that the organisation is seriously weakened even as it embarks on its crucial work," said Tom Oliver, head of rural policy for the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE).

In August, newspaper reports said Natural England was facing cuts of £12m, which threatened to undermine the agency's work.

Responding at the time, a spokesman for the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) said: "Recently, Defra has experienced a number of pressures, including funding avian influenza incidents and the introduction of a new payment scheme for farmers.

"We are doing our utmost to avoid cuts that will jeopardise important environmental projects," the spokesman added.
 
Government agency urges us back to nature

Government agency urges us back to nature

Hilary Osborne and agencies
Wednesday October 11, 2006
Guardian Unlimited


Natural England say people who are connected with their environment will make better decisions about it. Photograph: Getty/Gen Nishino

The government's new conservation agency will aim to inspire people to tackle climate change by putting them in touch with their natural environment, its chief executive said today.

Helen Phillips, the chief executive of Natural England, said people who felt an emotional or spiritual attachment to the environment were much more likely to change their behaviour to protect it.

"We do need to get people to take difficult decisions and it's much harder for them to do that if they don't feel a connection with the environment," she said.

Although Ms Phillips said her agency would not be "forcing people into the countryside", improving access to parks and beaches is a key part of four campaigns outlined today.

Under its health campaign, it plans to provide "accessible natural space" within 300 metres, or five minutes walk, of every home in England.

The other campaigns will address marine life, sustainable land management and climate change.

It will focus on persuading people to use the outdoors as a place to exercise in a bid to reduce the £11bn bill resulting from obesity and physical inactivity.

"There's good research from green gyms showing that people who take exercise outdoors tend to continue to do so for much longer than people who use normal gyms," Ms Phillips said.

Ms Phillips said the campaigns would be launched over the next four to six weeks and would run for at least three years.

Groups already working in similar areas would be invited to join forces with Natural England.

"One thing we don't want to do is alienate any potential partners," she said.

Natural England brings together English Nature, the landscape, access and recreation elements of the Countryside Agency and the environmental land management functions of the Rural Development Service.

The agency, which has a budget of £500m and employs 2,500 people from a headquarters in Sheffield, will have a wide-ranging remit.

As well as being a key regulator and the government's independent watchdog to advise on how policies affect the natural environment, it will provide incentives to farmers and land managers to manage their land in a more environmentally friendly way.

Sir Martin Doughty, chairman of Natural England, said: "The creation of Natural England is a landmark moment for the natural environment. No other organisation in Europe matches the breadth of our legislative remit, and the scale of our challenge.

The chief executive of the Environment Agency, Baroness Young, said the new agency would mean a more joined-up approach to environmental issues.

The environment secretary, David Miliband, will make the keynote speech at the agency's launch this evening.
 
Natural England Promises Rural Protection

Natural England Promises Rural Protection

The Government's new watchdog for the countryside, Natural England, launched today as an amalgamation of previous rural bodies

Wednesday, October 11 2006 - Country Life

Natural England (NE) was officially launched today as the watchdog of the countryside. It is an amalgamation of previous rural bodies English Nature, the Countryside Agency and the Rural Development Service.

NE says its remit is to work for people, places and nature, to enhance biodiversity, landscapes and wildlife in rural, urban coastal and marine areas, as well as to promote access recreation and public well being and contributing to the management of natural resources.

It says it aims to achieve four main things:


A healthy natural environment

Enjoyment of rural spaces

Sustainable use of the countryside

A secure environmental future

The Commission for Rural Communities, meanwhile, will assume the role of independent adviser, watchdog and advocate for rural people.

'The creation of Natural England is a landmark for the conservation and enhancement of England 's natural environment,' said Natural England's chief executive Dr Helen Phillips.

'Natural England has been created at a time of growing concern over the use of the world's natural resources and over climate change.'

However, some rural campaigners are concerned that the aggregation of previously independent bodies will mean Natural England is not tough enough in standing up to Government to argue the countryside's corner in debates. The Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) has, for one, expressed concern that NE will be too weak and too poor to make a difference in rural matters.

'Savage cuts to its core funding mean that the organisation is seriously weakened, even as it embarks on its crucial work,' said Tom Oliver, head of policy at the CPRE.

There are also concerns about the long term funding of NE, which comes from Defra, which has had to pay out more than expected over the past few months, as the Avian Influenza outbreak, and farmers' subsidy changes left the department out of pocket.

'Natural England faces huge challenges before it has even begun its work,' continued Mr Oliver. We look forward to working with the new agency to help it secure the resources it needs to deliver a high quality environment for town and country.'
 
Miliband regret at wildlife agency cut

Miliband regret at wildlife agency cut

By Charles Clover, Environment Editor, The Daily Telegraph
(Filed: 12/10/2006)

David Miliband, the Environment Secretary, last night admitted that he "regretted" budget cuts which have left the new agency, Natural England, with a ban on any conservation project costing more than £5,000.

Some £12.9 million has been cut from the landscape and wildlife agency budget for this year because the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs needs to save £200 million.

At the launch of the agency, which unites responsibilities for wildlife, landscapes and access in one body, Mr Miliband said: "I do not want to dodge the budgeting question. Defra has to live within its means and a combination of accounting changes, avian flu, and difficulties at the Rural Payments Agency have caused real problems.

''I recognise the power of Natural England's case for a funding rise on this year's final allocation; I plan to deliver this."

Sir Martin Doughty, Natural England's chairman, said the ban would mean that "more things may have to be pushed into next year".
 
Rural watchdog breaks HR budget

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/6047116.stm

Rural watchdog breaks HR budget

More than 70 people have been made redundant :storm:

Government spending on HR consultancy services to create the new rural watchdog has exceeded its budget by more than £63,000.

The 2,500-strong body Natural England has combined staff from English Nature, the Countryside Agency and the Rural Development Service.

A consortium led by EDS won the year-long contract to provide personnel services to "assist in the set-up and transitioning of staff to Natural England".

Professional services firm Towers Perrin provided the actual work, with the budget set in March 2006 at £1,171,818.

But over the 12 months to September this year, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) paid out £1,235,462.

(It is estimated that the change programme will pay for itself within two to three years of its conclusion in 2007 -
Defra)

And documents obtained by the BBC under the Freedom of Information Act show Defra had exceeded its budget half-way through the contract.

By February 2006, total spend had hit £1.11m.

And once the projected spend for March 2006 has been added in, the bill rises to more than £5,500 above the agreed contract value.

In a statement, Defra said it had achieved value for money: "Natural England... will conserve our wildlife and enhance our country's landscape.

"The Towers Perrin contract was part of the overall change programme.

"It is estimated that the change programme will pay for itself within two to three years of its conclusion in 2007, and deliver major savings beyond this period."

Job losses

The biggest area of spending up to February - more than £300,000 - was on the HR Project Manager responsible for managing the internal HR project team and external consultants.

Defra said the Project Manager also "...provided a range of specialist HR service and advice which would otherwise have required additional consultancy support".

Natural England is responsible for access to and quality of life in the countryside and has a budget of £500m.

About 78 staff were made redundant in the "transitioning", and more redundancies are expected.
 
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