Natural England to spend further £72m

MAY 15, 2008: Natural England hasannounced that an additional £72m will be spent on the naturalenvironment this year.

Further to an additional £68m for green farming schemes, NaturalEngland has announced that it will allocate an extra £4m this yeartowards protecting and enhancing the marine environment, improvingbiodiversity and researching renewable energy options in the SevernBarrage.

Despite the uncertainty in funding for the next two years, NaturalEngland has also taken a decision to give funding certainty over athree-year period to our key partners.

Dr Helen Phillips, ChiefExecutive of Natural England, said: “Much-needed protection for themarine environment and researching ways of tackling climate change aretop of Natural England’s priorities in the coming year.

"We have matchedour funds against the most pressing environmental priorities -protecting threatened landscapes and wildlife, and pushing forward ourwork on climate change. This is a positive result for the naturalenvironment.”

Activity spend for our protected landscapes and habitats includingAreas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) and National Nature Reserves(NNR) will be maintained at 07/08 funding levels, to a total of £17m.

In order to continue the good rate of progress in improving Sites ofSpecial Scientific Interest (SSSI) announced earlier this month,Natural England has maximised the use of the Wildlife EnhancementScheme (WES) with a budget of £9.5m, using more Higher Level Scheme(HLS) funding to support SSSI delivery.

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There will be efficiency savings of £16.5m to Natural England’sbudget over the next three years, including £1.1m through the recenttermination of the Discovering Lost Ways project.

The £4 million yielded though reallocation of resource will be divided as follows:

£2m for biodiversity£1m for marine work£0.5m for the European Landscape Convention£0.3m for evidence-gathering on the proposed Severn Barrage£0.3m for training to invest in our people’s delivery

Last December, the Natural England Board agreed a reduction of 150staff through voluntary redundancy. This will achieve a £4m saving in08/09 with higher savings in future years, which have been re-investedin delivery for the natural environment.

The Rural Development Programme for England (RDPE) settlement allowsNatural England to increase funding for delivery of Schemes under theProgramme, from £317m in 2007/08 to £385m in 2008/09.

Speaking about the RDPE settlement Dr Phillips continued: “Greenfarming has a major role to play in restoration of wildlife habitat andbiodiversity, flood and carbon management in England and sustainablefood production – it is vital that we continue to build onenvironmental success coming from this area of work.”