Government promises a green recovery

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Protecting nature will be at the heart of the UK’s recovery from the Covid virus, Environment Secretary George Eustice has said.

Speaking to environmental organisations he said that leaving the EU allows Britain to develop smarter rules to safeguard green spaces.

He promised post-Brexit regulations tailored to enhance habitats without needless delays to development.

Green groups fear it means developers will be able to fast-track damaging projects.

Red Squirrel
But Mr Eustice said: “There is no point leaving the EU to keep everything the same. The old model (including EU farm subsidies) hasn’t stopped the decline in our natural world.

“We must think creatively, to innovate and to avoid clinging to procedures just because they are familiar. On environmental policy, we can do better.”

He announced a consultation in the autumn on changing the way environmental impacts are assessed as part of the planning process.

He said: “We can set out which habitats and species will always be off-limit, so everyone knows where they stand.

“And we can add to that list where we want better protection for species characteristic of our country and critical to our ecosystems that the EU has sometimes overlooked – things like water voles, red squirrels, adders and pine martens.”

He announced a £5m pilot project to improve the science determining what needs to be protected.

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