Our response to the Autumn Statement 2016

Wednesday 23rd November 2016

This year’s Autumn Statement – the first since the EU referendum and the last of its kind – was heavy on measures for economic infrastructure, but light on measures to support the kind of infrastructure on which we all depend for our nation’s prosperity and wellbeing: green infrastructure.

To The Wildlife Trusts, this represents another missed opportunity by the Government to show real environmental leadership and to secure the recovery of our precious wildlife and wild places.

As The Wildlife Trusts’ England Director, Steve Trotter, explained:
“This year’s Autumn Statement demonstrates yet again that Government is not recognising that our society – it’s health, prosperity and happiness – is totally dependent on nature.

“An Autumn Statement that puts nature at its heart would include a bold plan to boost Government investment in green infrastructure: such as returning our river catchments and peatlands to good health, or ensuing that new housing projects incorporate large-scale habitat creation schemes. These types of schemes were sadly missing from the Chancellor’s statement. I hope that a big push to restore nature close to where people live and work is built into the promised Housing White Paper.

Farmers need to be given confidence that they can go forward with support in place for their crucial environmental work and we call on the Chancellor to make this much-needed commitment

“We can take some small comfort that there are for now no further reductions to the Landfill Communities Fund – one of the few remaining sources of funding for nature’s recovery. We will continue to work hard to get back up to full capacity this essential lifeline for many community and environmental projects, which would otherwise not happen.

“The Chancellor also gave no guarantee in today’s Autumn Statement that agri-environment schemes will remain open to new applications right up until the point that replacement domestic schemes are fully operational. This means a gap in funding and a risk to the long-term work farmers and land managers do to help reduce flooding, and improve the quality of our waters and soils. It is bad news for farmland wildlife, biodiversity and efforts to save rare species and we believe that our farmland birds, bats and bugs deserve better. Farmers need to be given confidence that they can go forward with support in place for their crucial environmental work and we call on the Chancellor to make this much-needed commitment.”