Making noise for nature
Why we’ve added our voice to concerns about environmental deregulation
Today, Earth Trust joined over 75 nature, countryside, heritage and health organizations in expressing concern to the Prime Minster about the threat that proposed deregulation poses to the UKs legally-binding climate and nature targets.
Alongside Wildlife Countryside Link, RSPB, National Trust, Woodland Trust, CPRE and Wildlife Trusts, we have published an open letter to the Prime Minster urging her to reconsider environmental deregulation.
What are the concerns?
Important laws that direct UK environmental legislation were laid down in Europe and therefore to avoid gaps in the law on important areas like product standards, animal welfare and employment law, the UK converted EU law to domestic law en masse and called it ‘retained EU law’ (REUL). Last week, the Retained EU Law (Revocation and Reform) Bill was laid in Parliament, confirming the UK government plans to remove all traces of EU law (with some exceptions for Northern Ireland) by June 2026. This means that hundreds of laws will be reformed and revoked – including many critical environmental laws such as those governing important habitats and species as well as those for clean water, rivers and beaches.
Hot on the heels of this news, Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng announced plans for 40 new investment zones – lowering taxes and relaxing planning frameworks to encourage rapid development and business investment. While investment zones are intended to drive growth and unlock housing, there are concerns that ripping up environmental protections will in fact harm local business as well as posing serious risks to the environment. This map – shared by RSPB – shows legally protected areas mapped on to districts, in green, that want investment zones.
There has also been intense speculation that Defra may change or delay proposed Environmental Land Management schemes (ELMS).
The government has denied an intention to go back on its commitment to the environment, but with only eight years left to meet legal obligations around nature restoration, this potentially represents a large set back to progress. Changing the rules when there is no clear plan or mandate for an alternative could set back environmental delivery by years.
The environmental sector is angry – many calling this an attack on nature.
Why we signed the letter
Over the past few months, Earth Trust has been strongly advocating for the need to Build Nature In. We recognise the need for housing and development, but feel strongly that healthy places are ones that include nature – not ones that set themselves apart from it.
Supporting a healthy natural environment is vital in the fight against climate, biodiversity and wellbeing crises. But, for people and nature to thrive together, we need to integrate healthy environments into the places where we work, live and play.
Many accessible nature-rich places are farmed and managed for food – and we must remember that changes in farming and food production take years of planning and transition, not months.
Economy, environment, health, climate are all interconnected, complex parts of a complex system. Making changes to policies and protections in one area, will have consequences in others.
It is vital that any reviews do not delay progress to nature recovery or access to green spaces. We should not go back to a system of rewarding land ownership, development and production systems that do not also deliver benefits for nature and people.
At the very least, we need assurances that the legal requirement for all development (including “Investment Zones”), to carry out proper wildlife surveys and environmental assessment will continue, and that mitigations for loss of nature remain the focus.
Off-setting must not be used as a sticking plaster to permit aggressive development. Instead, investment Zones could be used as an opportunity to Build Nature In – supporting both nature’s recovery and greater access to nature-rich green space – with mandated green infrastructure and restoration in these zones.
In a nutshell, we are urging the government to issue absolute clarity about their intentions and their plan to drive nature’s recovery, alongside climate recovery and health and wellbeing, to meet its 2030 target within the next eight years. We urge the government to confirm that current protections will be maintained until they are superseded or improved. And we ask that any review results in ‘additional’ benefits for the environment, not a downgrading or backsliding on these aspects.
What can you do?
Please tell your MP how you feel, or write to your local councillor to show them that strong environment laws – and supporting people and nature to thrive together – are important to the communities they represent.