Environmentalists, such as those affiliated with the Wildlife Trusts, Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, and National Trust, have voiced their disapproval of proposed changes to the planning laws that govern “investment zones” in certain regions of England, as well as the elimination of a programme that rewards farmers for their efforts to preserve wildlife habitats.
On September 23, as part of the emergency budget that the newly elected Conservative administration of the United Kingdom presented on that day, the chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng revealed plans to establish low-tax investment zones with reduced planning restrictions in several parts of England. In a separate development, it has come to light that the English government is set to withdraw plans that called for farmers and landowners in that country to be compensated for their efforts to protect and improve regions that are home to animals.
This has resulted in an outcry from environmentalists of many political persuasions across the board, with opponents claiming that it would be catastrophic for the wildlife population.
The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds in the United Kingdom issued a statement on September 23 stating, “This government has today launched an attack on nature.” If they are successful in carrying out their intentions, there will be no safe havens left.
“Rather than ramping up action to support our environment, this government appears to be heading in the opposite direction,” stated Hilary McGrady, the head of the National Trust, a charity in the UK that manages large areas of land in the country. “This government appears to be heading in the opposite direction.” It is a free-for-all for environment and heritage in the new Investment Zones that have been established.
Ben Goldsmith, a member of the Conservative Party in the United Kingdom, said in a tweet that “everything we have and all we do depends upon the health and vitality of the nature which shines all around us,” meaning that a reassessment is necessary. “Britain is one of the countries that has lost the most of its natural resources,”
It would appear that the intentions for the investment zones are very hazy at this time, with no specifics having been decided upon. It is stated in a fact sheet that “the requirement for planning applications will be minimised, and when planning applications remain required, they will be drastically shortened… When the time is appropriate, we will provide further information on the liberalised planning offer for investment zones.
The English government has stated that it is in the process of establishing investment zones with 38 of the country's local councils. These agencies have jurisdiction over the vast majority of England; however, it is unclear which regions will be designated as investment zones at this time. It is the government's aim that the programme will eventually be implemented in Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland as well.
There have been other instances of programmes quite similar to this one in both the UK and other countries. The previous government made an announcement about their intentions to create “Freeports,” which would have separate restrictions. According to a research briefing presented in the House of Commons on August 22nd, there are already 48 “business zones” in England. These “enterprise zones” “benefit from tax and planning exemptions,” but they have generated a much less number of jobs than was anticipated.
According to The Observer newspaper, sources inside the administration have also confirmed that the Environmental Land Management Scheme will be cancelled before it even comes into action. This news comes on the heels of the confirmation that the investment zones will be scrapped. The plan was to offer farmers and landowners financial incentives to improve land management practises in a way that is more helpful to wildlife and the ecosystem as a whole.
Instead, it's possible that farmers will be compensated based on the amount of land they own, similar to how it works under the Common Agricultural Policy of the European Union, which the United Kingdom was supposed to be withdrawing from after Brexit. The Common Agricultural Policy has been blamed by environmental activists for having a negative impact on biodiversity since it subsidises intensive farming and pays farmers to clear land, even if the land isn't used for crop production.
Campaigners for the environment saw one of the few potential benefits of Brexit as being the potential replacement of the Common Agricultural Policy with the Environmental Land Management Scheme. This was seen as one of the few positive things that could come from the United Kingdom leaving the European Union.
On Twitter, Craig Bennett of The Wildlife Trusts referred to this situation as “the complete insanity of it.” “If we go to an agricultural system where people get awarded money from taxpayers' money on the basis of how much land they own, then one of the few potential environmental benefits of Brexit will have been wasted. ” It will not only be unfair but also impossible to maintain.
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