National Trust’s initial reaction to Chancellor’s Spring Statement

Backlit trees and bluebells in the garden at Dunham Massey, Cheshire. ©National Trust Images/Andrew Butler

Commenting on the Chancellor’s Spring Statement, Richard Hebditch, Government Affairs and Advocacy Director, said:

“It was refreshing to hear the Chancellor recognise the scale of the decline in nature in his statement today, and the clear link between healthy nature and a healthy economy. Earlier this week the Government’s report to the United Nations showed that the UK is on course to miss at least 14 of 20 goals to help nature and wildlife.”

“The Government’s review of the economic value of biodiversity will have one unavoidable conclusion – nature underpins our economy by providing us with clean air and water, fertile soils, health benefits and by supporting wildlife. Spending money on nature today is an investment that will be repaid many times over.”

“We welcome the Government’s plan to mandate a biodiversity net gain through the Environment Bill for new developments which we want to see cover major infrastructure proposals as well as housing developments – if designed well this could help to protect and expand carbon sinks in peatland, woodland and soil, and help generate some of the resources needed to fund nature’s recovery. The Oxford-Cambridge Arc will be a key test case for this new approach.”

“Many parts of the Government’s 25 Year Environment Plan for England, including the cornerstone Nature Recovery Network, don’t have a penny to their name right now. If the Government wants to replenish our countryside with wildlife, and reap the many benefits nature provides to society and the economy, it needs to invest in it today. The spending review should also ensure that agencies like Natural England are resourced to do the job needed of them.”

“Disappointingly, the Chancellor was silent today on the long-term budget for future farm support, which will be focused on delivering environmental public goods after Brexit. Farmers and conservationists are united in calling for budgets to be set until at least 2027 to give security and confidence to the industry. We will look to the Government to address this through the Agriculture Bill and Spending Review.”

“Tackling climate change will bey crucial to the environment’s health. The warmth and efficiency of new homes is a critical investment, that could save costly retro-fitting in the future. Tackling the efficiency of the much larger existing housing stock will be important too, and needs to be done sensitively enough to take care of valuable historic buildings and their features.”

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