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Retain English Nature - Independent watchdog essential, says Tom Brake MP

January 7, 2004 12:00 AM

Tom Brake MP has called on the Government to maintain the status of English Nature, its statutory advisor on wildlife and the environmental impacts of Government policies. The arms length non-departmental public body, or NDPB, was given extra powers to protect sites of special conservation significance under the Countryside Act three years ago. Now the Government looks set to implement a major shakeup following a review of the delivery of services to improve the rural environment. The review, by Lord Haskins, proposes a new integrated agency that builds on the foundations of English Nature but there are fears that it will be less independent and able to take a critical stance towards Government policy.

A Commons Motions backed by local MP Tom Brake welcomes the principles of the Haskins Review but calls on the Government to ensure that any new body will still have the preservation of biodiversity, the natural environment and the benefits that these bring to people at its core, continue its role as a monitoring body and be able to provide independent advice to Government as a non-departmental public body.

Mr Brake said, "It is essential that the Government retain the independent wildlife watchdog role of English Nature in any future integrated body. The advice English Nature provides on the likely impacts of Government policy on wildlife and the environment is invaluable. It would be of great concern if any proposed body moved away from this role and concentrated solely on the rural agenda, at the expense of biodiversity, marine and urban conservation."

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