11 May 2022

Nature recovery green paper has scant details of how we save what we still have

Beth Wagg, PCS Efra Group President, says she feels nervous about the future for members and the environment after reading the nature recovery green paper which makes no mention of public sector investment

For the past few weeks, I have been drafting the PCS response to the nature recovery green paper. This is the initial step in the development of the government’s strategy for protecting the natural environment in the UK and moving towards net zero as a country.

You would think that Defra (the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) and its delivery bodies would be at the forefront of this. It’s the environment, it’s in our name. This green paper has very few details about how this will be delivered and how our members will help the country achieve everything that needs to be done to be save what we still have. 

The outcome of the green paper could fundamentally change the make-up of our group and how our members do their jobs. We are a group made up of many employers, some of whom carry out work that is covered by this green paper and could see significant changes in the years to come by decisions made from this starting point.

I am fortunate to live in an area that is surrounded by many different types of natural environment, but also has a habit of flooding. My fear from this green paper is that companies/investors will be able to pick and choose what they fund in the name of saving the environment. Leading to certain habitats, species and projects being well funded because of the PR boost they could bring, and others being left behind. The natterjack toads and narrow-headed ants might not be glamourous enough but need protection, too. Or the villages which regularly get flooded but don’t make the national news will continue to have to batten down hatches every time a storm approaches. 

Our department is wonderfully diverse in the work that is done by our members.  They can be drafting a policy, visiting a farm, managing a forest, issuing a marine wildlife licence or one of the many other roles we all do. So, you can appreciate that as there is nothing said about the public sector investment in the green paper, we are left feeling a bit nervous about our future and the future of the natural environment. 

Our messages in response to this green paper are simple:

  • The natural environment should be available and accessible to everyone
  • The private sector should not be depended on for funding our natural environment
  • Public investment in the skills needed to protect our environment is essential
  • Carbon offsetting isn’t the answer, carbon production needs to be reduced rather than compensated for.