Draft environment law must do more to protect local wildlife

Water Vole © Terry Whittaker

Kent Wildlife Trust has warned that the Government's draft new environment law does not go far enough to protect nature in Kent.

The charity has responded to the draft law by launching a new campaign calling on local people to stand up for a stronger Environment Act.

The draft Environment Bill will be the first revision to UK environmental laws for 20 years. But Kent Wildlife Trust is concerned that a new nature watchdog proposed under the law will not have enough power and independence to properly challenge decisions that are bad for nature. The draft Bill also fails to set in place key measures, such as networks of natural space where nature can thrive, which had been proposed by the charity and other environmental organisations. 

In the past century Kent has lost 30 species of wild plant, eight species of butterfly, one amphibian, one reptile, 10 bird species, and two species of bat. But damage to the environment affects us all – we rely on it for the air we breathe, the food we eat and to keep our climate in check. The loss of wildlife is replicated across the UK, and Kent Wildlife Trust is campaigning with other wildlife trusts across the UK to secure improvements to the draft Bill before it is finalised 2019.

The campaign calls for the new law to include:

  • Targets for nature’s recovery that politicians must be answerable to
  • Requirements on local councils to create joined-up networks of wildlife and natural systems  that help species to move more freely around
  • A strong, independent watchdog that can challenge decisions that are damaging to nature

Kent Wildlife Trust works year-round to protect nature across the county – not only on its own reserves but by helping local government, industries, landowners and the public to take actions and make decisions that support wildlife. But the charity argues that its own work, and that of Kent’s communities, must be underpinned by the right legal protection for nature.

Julia Hunt, Head of Conservation Policy & Advocacy for Kent Wildlife Trust, said: “Nature is under real and immediate threat. Over half of UK species have declined since 1970 and 15% are now at risk of extinction. But damage to nature damages us all: our health, prosperity and future survival rely on our environment.

“For the first time in 20 years, we have the opportunity to write environmental protection and recovery into law. But today’s draft Environment Bill doesn’t go far enough to define how government will restore nature, who will do it and how they will be held to account. That’s why we’re asking all of Kent to get behind our campaign and tell their local MP to back a strong Environment Act. We can’t miss our chance.”

People living in Kent can back Wildlife Trust’s campaign for a strong Environment Act by visiting www.kentwildlifetrust.org.uk/EnvironmentAct or following #WilderKent.