Sunday, June 26, 2016

Conservation in chaos !

I can't say I'm pleased or comfortable with the outcome of the Referendum, particularly as I suspect the implications for "the environment" will be worse than for other sectors.  But , the malleable majority have spoken and got what they wanted. Or did they ?  I've a horrible suspicion many just voted Exit in the hope they'd take a swipe at the Tories as they didn't really understand the process in the first place !

But I'm not going to have the temerity of forecasting this, that and the other as others appear willing to do way before the process has even got under way. That, to me,  is foolish and likely to be seriously misguided given there are no precedents or comparisons to go by.  However, even sticking by the facts, the future situation appears not to be good when it comes to "the environment".

To some great extent, in my view, the EU has very often tempered and adjusted the somewhat lukewarm commitment to our natural heritage that recent UK governments have exhibited.  The EU regulations have provided some constancy when it comes to environmental standards to the extent that Member States have been criticised, even fined, for given actions, all of which will now end!!  The EU Birds and Habitats Directives will no longer apply. Two major pieces of legislation which have been a bedrock against which planning and performance was often judged. They weren't perfect, what system is , but they were better than  what we'll  have now and, worse still, better than anything one can imagine a UK Government might institute, particularly a Tory Government.  And other environmental subject areas benefited too......Clean beaches, the Marine Environment, climate change, toxic chemicals....the list goes on.

And don't forget the research and conservation grants and programmes the EU funded. In this respect the RSPB and many other NGO's will find things more difficult than previously and will have to work hard to meet the financial shortfalls which will become evident, particularly if any of the predictions of austerity bite!

In my view the influence that NGO's have had on our "Government machine" in recent times has been waning rapidly.  There's been a misplaced impression within their thinking that, somehow, they've been making inroads into the thinking of their chums in Government. What thinking ?  There is and has been no empathy or intent when it comes to our natural heritage, particularly within the last six years ( Thanks, Dave ! ) and effusive thanks born of breeding and upbringing aren't enough set against the inputs made available and a lack of action.

My main fear in the future maelstrom of uncertainty, which is bound to follow, is that the Establishment, as always, will seek to protect its own interests ( First Principle ), but that it will deliberately exploit the opportunities that now come from a relaxation or absence of controls aimed at preserving our natural heritage.  No, you might say ! Well, let's see what happens with fracking and the opportunities wee George Osborne has oft extolled in terms of economic development. He may not be directly involved, but adherence to pursuing the opportunity to create wealth will apply come what may ( Second Principle ) with little regard for the environment.  OK, dismiss this as predictive rubbish if you will.  I say , come back in five years and see what is in place !!  Concern and provision for environmental matters will be bottom of the pile in the upcoming years and the weak approaches of NGO's in recent times need to stiffen significantly in response, otherwise their support will reduce. Let's see, it could be the making of them!!

So, a bleak picture in many senses for the environment if the current Government remains in place,  They might not be, of course, but we need to ensure any alternative is better and I confess not to having a deal of confidence in that direction either. At the moment the Westminster village appears to be playing the game of " Secure a place in history, fall on your sword " which might be even something to encourage except the personalities never actually go away !

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