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Brexit good for wildlife?

Printed From: Reptiles and Amphibians of the UK
Category: News
Forum Name: Latest News
Forum Description: articles & press releases
Printed Date: 20 Oct 2020 at 7:50am
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Topic: Brexit good for wildlife?
Posted By: GemmaJF
Subject: Brexit good for wildlife?
Date Posted: 23 Mar 2018 at 3:20pm
Seen a few people afraid that Brexit will mean no protection for wildlife as the WCA was essentially interpretation of European law. Mostly the articles I've read have pointed towards continuity of wildlife legislation being the current policy.

What I've heard less about is the impact of Brexit on intensive farming in the UK. Have we essentially 'won the war' for conservation of wildlife in the UK by leaving the EU?

Speaking last week, Michael Gove, environment, food and rural affairs secretary, said the government’s approach to farming after the existing system of payments is due to expire in 2022 will emphasise conservation and the environment. Subsidies would be directed at farmers who “enhance the natural environment”, such as planting woodland or creating new wildlife habitats.

To expand on this, predictions are that without subsidies 90% of current farms will go out of business. If they want to continue to get money from the government in future it will only be for creating wildlife habitat such as woodland and wild flower meadows and opening up access to the public. 

I can see a great deal of opportunity for wildlife here. Those that do not embrace the new ideas are likely to go out of business. Some are predicting land prices will fall drastically and land will be freely available, private nature reserve anybody? Smile

What do others think? Since teenage I always thought the only chance we had for wildlife conservation in the UK was a drastic change in farming practice, especially in areas like East Anglia with intensive arable farming and factory like barren fields. Always felt the developers were unfairly burdened (and obviously reluctant) to  carry the can of paying for conservation. Will it now be the farmers that put back what they progressively destroyed?

Posted By: GemmaJF
Date Posted: 23 Mar 2018 at 3:27pm
FT article here" rel="nofollow -

Posted By: chubsta
Date Posted: 23 Mar 2018 at 8:22pm
i don’t know enough about subsidies etc to comment on that side of it, but surely any sane person can see we need a drop in immigration as we are constantly told we need more housing.

when i was much younger all the talk was about how china was implementing rules on the number of children that a family could have, i would love them to do the same here. so much of kent has been developed with identikit housing estates with no room for wildlife, and when the land is developed it is gone forever.

Posted By: GemmaJF
Date Posted: 23 Mar 2018 at 9:40pm
I don't know, I always thought there was tons of land for housing. It's always been a myth that we are short of land. When I use to fly over vast tracks of the UK, became pretty obvious to me how little of it is actually developed and how much is  land owned by a handful of people. Who get subsidies for owning it and farming it uneconomically.  It only seems that development leaves no room for wildlife, because the wildlife lives in the areas that not either already developed or farmed. Stop the intensive farming, there are literally acres and acres of land for wildlife, way more than is built on apart from in the center of cities.

Posted By: GemmaJF
Date Posted: 23 Mar 2018 at 9:56pm
Just to put it into the perspective of what I see here, local farmer owns 3 times the area of land taken up by the nearest town and surrounding four villages around his farm. He has one house in the middle of it and tries to drive away even people going out for a simple walk on a public footpath. Much of East Anglia is the same. He only still farms it because he is given vast subsidies to do so. Something like 60% of his income will be subsidies. He employs just two other people full time on the farm. One field would be enough to meet the calls for 5,000 new homes around the local town. That still leaves a huge area being uneconomically farmed. It's the definition of madness when it comes to land use. He uses every inch of land, batters the hedgerows, ploughs in the ponds, covers it in chemicals.. has to change. If he got money to turn one of his many fields into a flower meadow, another into woodland and restore some of the ponds, maintain the hedges on a two year rotation to allow berries for wild birds, he would get a lot more support from me rather than the way it is now destroying every inch he possibly can.

Posted By: chubsta
Date Posted: 23 Mar 2018 at 10:26pm
I guess we tend to focus on what affects us most, and around where I live there are literally thousands of new houses being built - a huge swathe of 'wild' countryside is being built upon to create a new town called 'Otterpool' (sounds lovely doesn't it) with associated industrial parks etc. The locals of a number of small villages who have campaigned against it have recently been told their houses will be compulsory purchased and demolished to make way for the development...

This isn't industrially farmed land, a lot is woodland, small fields with great old hedges, the council have the nerve to say they will create pathways to the countryside and therefore this is better for the environment than actual countryside.

There are massive shortages of doctors surgeries and schools (Folkestone has over 5000 people who cannot get registered at a GP), the roads are completely full, we regularly get the M20 motorway closed to use as a lorry park bringing chaos to surrounding roads - surely the answer is fewer people rather than more houses and development.

Regarding farmers and their use of the land, unfortunately it is often the farmers who are the prime movers for development as they get more for their land that way, so hopefully a change in the subsidy systems will cause them to revert to more eco-friendly methods.

Posted By: GemmaJF
Date Posted: 23 Mar 2018 at 10:45pm
I do understand how it is, particularly in Kent, I saw West Malling Airfield fall to development, was working on a very low impact mitigation just around the corner at the time. Mervyn is originally from Kent, and started out in Folkestone, he calls it the 'concrete garden of England' now. Unfortunately the policy has been that the open farm land cannot be touched, hence why areas such as woodlands, abandoned airfields etc go under the bulldozers, just the places where all the wildlife is. We have just the same problem in Maldon with the Doctor's surgery, more housing going up and hard to get an appointment and for new people to register. Though I guess that is a different funding issue all together.

Funny thing about it all there were calls for this change before Brexit, but the farmers union's came out strongly for productivity and 'tidiness' in the countryside as outweighing the needs of wildlife. I mean honestly 'tidiness' in the countryside, but this is exactly the attitude of our local farmer has. I asked why it was necessary to flail cut a mature hedge on both sides and top until it resembled a box hedge in a garden and his only reply was that it looked 'tidier'. That hedge use to be full of birds. The change might be that Brexit puts much more control in the hands of UK ministers to force farmers into line with these new policies and think more like conservationists, I hope so.

Posted By: GemmaJF
Date Posted: 23 Mar 2018 at 11:57pm
There's a good write-up here from the RSPB, guess I just don't want the herp community to miss the boat on the new opportunities and make sure they get a look in, particularly pushing for the construction of pondscapes across the currently barren fields that are safe from chemical sprays." rel="nofollow -

Posted By: Liz Heard
Date Posted: 31 Mar 2018 at 11:28am
Rather like Gemma, i'm hoping Brexit will turn out to be an opportunity capitalised and a new page can be turned. Agree too that new developments (which given our population growth owing to increased life expectancy and net migration are a certainty) should take place wherever possible on the least bio-diverse, most despoiled land class - arable farmland.
Planners might do well to follow Costa Rica's holistic approach and leave/construct habitat-linking corridors.

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