Blog - 29th June 2023

Jun 29th 2023, 14:34

Blog - 29th June 2023

In this blog I consider the ‘People’s Plan for Nature’ and how local government should respond.

The Royal Society for the Preservation of Birds (RSPB), National Trust (NT) and World Wildlife Fund (WWF) have been encouraging their members to write to their members of Parliament (MPs) to urge them to support the ‘People’s Plan for Nature’.

The ‘People's Plan for Nature’, has been produced by a representative group of ordinary citizens who came together as the People’s Assembly for Nature. It outlines a compelling roadmap to protect and restore Britain’s natural habitats. The RSPB, NT and WWF have committed to integrating its recommendations into their work.

Red Squirrel

This plan is important to protect the unique and diverse nature that Britain has been blessed with. We’re at a critical point in our planet's history. Both the natural world and our climate are in crisis and Britain’s wildlife is under considerable threat. Millions of birds are gone from our skies, nearly all our wildflower meadows are lost, and a quarter of all our mammals are at risk of extinction. But it’s not too late if we act now.

The People’s Plan recommends greater environmental protections, more robust support for farmers who are contributing to nature's recovery, and the implementation of business transition plans that minimise the private sector’s impact on the environment. The public mandate for these actions is strong, and the time for decisive action is now.

This plan deserves political attention. Therefore, as requested by the RSPB, I have written to my MP (Dr Neil Hudson, Conservative) to ask him to support this plan in Parliament and within his party. All parties should respond to this call to action and integrate its recommendations into their plans to protect and restore Britain’s natural environment, following the example set by leading British non-governmental organisations.

Dr Hudson has responded very promptly as follows:

“I would like to assure you that I fully recognise that biodiversity loss is a global problem that needs a global solution. I welcome that at COP15, the UN biodiversity summit held in Canada, a new deal to protect nature was agreed by almost 200 countries. The Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF) includes a commitment to halt and reverse biodiversity loss by 2030 and to protect 30 per cent of land and oceans by 2030. The GBF also commits to ending human-induced extinctions of known threatened species.

“The UK played a leading role in the negotiations, building on the UK’s COP and G7 presidencies, including the Leaders Pledge for Nature. This commits world leaders to taking action to drive sustainable food production, end the illegal wildlife trade and tackle climate change. At the recent meeting of Climate and Environment Ministers of the G7, members committed to the swift implementation of the GBF, as well as international climate finance to nature-based solutions.

“Domestically, the Environment Act 2021 sets a legally binding target to halt the decline in species abundance by 2030. Biodiversity net gain and a strengthened biodiversity duty on public authorities will create and restore rich habitats that enable wildlife to recover and thrive, while conservation covenants will help secure habitat for the long-term.

“Regarding farming, the Sustainable Farming Incentive will provide farmers with a range of paid actions to manage hedgerows for wildlife, plant nectar-rich wildflowers and manage crop pests without the use of insecticides. These incentives will make food production more resilient and efficient over the longer term while contributing towards the UK’s environmental goals on carbon, biodiversity, water quality and net zero.

“Further, Countryside Stewardship Plus will reward farmers for taking coordinated action, working with neighbouring farms and landowners to support climate and nature aims. It will deliver environmental ambitions including managing floodplain meadows to reduce flood risk and improve biodiversity, restoring and maintaining peatland for carbon capture and storage, and enhancing and managing woodland to mitigate against drought.”

Unfortunately, this response refers to what is already being done, that many would regard as being insufficient, and does not address the recommendations of the ‘People’s Plan for Nature’ or propose any further actions. I therefore find it a bit disappointing.


The ‘People's Plan for Nature’ has many specific recommendations aimed at national government; local government; businesses (including food businesses); charities & non-governmental organisations; and individuals & communities. For example, those that are directed at local government include to:

  • Assist in creating grassroots coordination in local areas, including the creation of local directories of partners and projects.
  • Ensure that regional and local needs and views are represented within the proposed permanent Assembly for Nature.
  • Look at local policing and penalties for crimes against nature.
  • Take account of any findings of the proposed body balancing social and economic interests in decision-making about nature protection and restoration, and applying them locally.
  • Introduce local rules and projects to encourage farmers’ markets, knowledge sharing locally and promote local good practice
  • Aim to limit unhealthy food outlets, change food offered in schools and hospitals i.e. through procurement, and lead education / re-education initiatives in their area.
  • Help with distributing excess food, introduce and enforce the rules that make food sharing easier, enable more composting of food waste and to undertake the education and communication with the public that is needed.
  • Prioritise making land available to communities for allotments and communal growing spaces to enable people to grow their own food.
  • Help spread knowledge of local initiatives and enable local farmers markets.
  • Lead on bringing together relevant partners to develop a plan for river catchment renewal as they hold planning responsibility within their areas and have routes into local communities to get them involved.
  • Work with water suppliers in all parts of the UK to establish and implement a consistent system for introducing water meters to domestic properties and domestic water billing that is not associated with Council tax.
  • Provide funding to projects, help groups to navigate the rules and regulations, and provide land directly for projects to get going.
  • Use their planning powers to enforce this minimum allocation (of 12% of land area for nature).
  • Secure the relevant expertise, coordinate local community groups, consider how green decisions are part of planning decisions.
  • Research what local communities want for their green and natural spaces and activities.
  • Encourage walking meetings and volunteering in green and nature-based activities (with time given by employers, during working hours).
  • Contribute to the cost of upkeep of local green spaces.
  • Provide interpretation so that evidence takes into account local needs. Others can get involved by sharing ‘what works’ and best practice / impact.
  • Act as a bridge between stakeholders and communities to communicate a change of language from nature restoration to renewal, support action locally and encourage more public involvement.
Perhaps local authorities should decide to take the lead on protecting nature in this way.

More information about the ‘People’s Plan for Nature’ can be found by clicking here.

My next webinar will be on ‘How to Register a New Registered Provider (Housing Association)’. It will be held on 20th July 2023. For further information or to register, please click here.

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