Nature conservation charities call on Government to support and deliver on local leaders' Environment Principles for protecting, restoring and enhancing the natural environment in the Oxford-Cambridge Arc.
A group of nature conservation charities has welcomed local leaders’ new Environment Principles for protecting, restoring and enhancing the natural environment in the Oxford-Cambridge Arc – including doubling the area of land managed primarily for nature.
The four charities – the RSPB; the Wildlife Trust for Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Northamptonshire; The Woodland Trust; and Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire Wildlife Trust – are calling on Government Ministers to take every step necessary to ensure these goals are achieved to deliver on the promise that the Arc will be an exemplar of the 25 Year Environment Plan.
Emma Marsh, RSPB England Director: “If the Oxford-Cambridge Arc is to go ahead, it must do so in a way that helps solve the Nature and Climate Emergency that we are in. It cannot be allowed to add to the problems. These Principles set out some genuinely bold and ambitious goals for nature that have broad support from council and business leaders, universities and Local Enterprise Partnerships. The Government, and in particular the Ministers responsible for business, the economy, housing, transport and the environment, must support and help achieve these goals if they are to deliver on their promise to make the Arc an exemplar of the 25 Year Environment Plan.”
John Comont, Conservation Director at the Wildlife Trust for Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Northamptonshire: “The Leaders of the local authorities in the Arc counties have laid out their view for how the Environment needs to be considered in thinking about development across our region. The challenge they’ve set out is significant. The crucial calls for development to only take place within environmental limits, and alongside doubling the area of land managed primarily for nature, set a high bar for plans for the region, but one that has to be met if we are going to start to reverse the impacts of decades of decline in the state of the natural environment.”
Toby Bancroft, The Woodland Trust Regional Director, Central England: “The environmental principles provide a strong framework to ensure that any development in the Growth Arc is environmentally sustainable. We are pleased that they include protection of important habitats and a significant increase in tree cover from 7.4% to 19%. It is important that the principles are translated into planning policy through the proposed Arc-wide spatial strategy.”
Matthew Stanton, Head of Planning, Policy and Advocacy at Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire Wildlife Trust: “If development across the Arc goes ahead, nature must not only be at the heart of plans, it has to come first. The level of investment in nature cannot be dependent on investments in developments. We must protect nature as a priority, and we back the local leaders’ call for all developments to be within the Arc’s environmental limits. Government must raise its own environmental ambitions for the Arc and ensure plans restore rather than destroy nature. A good first step would be formally cancelling the OxCam Expressway.”