UK Slashes Crucial Conservation Ministry’s Budget

The British government agency in charge of leading the fight against global warming will implement £300 million in emergency cuts just as the Prime Minister commits to a new environmental plan.


Helen Ghosh, of the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) is creating the package which will include cuts to agencies and programs on such diverse topics as energy saving, recycling and carbon emissions among others. The cuts come as Gordon Brown is preparing for a speech next week in which he will announce Britain’s recommitment to having 20% of energy from renewable sources by 2020. DEFRA is at the center of the UK’s environmental efforts.

The cuts come after DEFRA was forced to pay massive bills for the Foot and Mouth outbreaks and other disasters. The agency was also responsible for the mismanagement of payments to farmers, which resulted in mix-ups over billions of pounds of EU money to farmers. DEFRA, which had cuts made to its budget a month ago, was told to find £270 million to remove from the budget somehow. The ministry had £200 million cut from the budget by the Treasury last year.

The Guardian newspaper broke this story, and has reportedly seen documents relating to the things to be cut, which include £130 million of immediate cuts and £140 more in other options. All 50 of the ministry’s agencies will be affected, with particularly heavy cuts in nature conservation. Natural England, which protects wildlife and locations, will have its new conservation budget slashed by 30% and must pay back £12 million to the Treasury, according to the Guardian’s source.

Although Gordon Brown is making a renewed attempt to make Britain at least appear it’s participating in, though not leading, the fight against climate change, these actions speak louder than any of his increasingly hollow words. This ministry is absolutely central to the UK’s efforts to become a greener country, and to slash its budget now suggests an incredible lack of foresight. Surely there are other ministries that could more easily make do with a little less cash in their coffers. Something involving defense, perhaps?

Source: Guardian

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