• Developers can pay to rip up nature

    21st April 2013 | News | Claire
  • Here’s the link and first part of the story below:  http://www.thesundaytimes.co.uk/sto/news/uk_news/Environment/article1248864.ece 

    BRITAIN’S nature reserves, woodlands and meadows could be ripped up by developers — provided they put aside money to create new habitats under a government scheme to put a value on wildlife.

    Under the “biodiversity offsetting” proposals, the money raised would be used to turn low-grade farmland into woodlands, for example.

    The scheme, detailed in a new report, could be among the most controversial proposed by the coalition government because there is little science to show that such artificial environments have anything like the quality of those they are replacing.

    The scheme is being championed by Owen Paterson, the environment secretary, whose department, Defra, is planning trials in Essex, Warwickshire, Norwich, Devon, Doncaster and Nottingham.

    He said: “We shouldn’t need to choose between either improving the environment or growing the economy. We should aim to have both, which is why I’m keen to see the results of these trials.”

    Nature reserves with statutory protection, such as sites of special scientific interest, would be excluded (because they are protected under EU legislation) but developers would be able to target local and county nature reserves or areas of outstanding natural beauty.

    Ben Stafford of the Campaign to Protect Rural England, said: “This will be a counter-productive policy if it is seen as a ‘licence to trash’, giving developers a freedom to build on wildlife sites that they have not previously been able to touch.”