Sunday, March 23, 2014

Victoria's Green Matters - 20th March 2014

Deal With IT's Secretary Victoria Nicholls writes a regular column in the East Kent Mercury

Have you ever heard of ‘bio-diversity offsetting’? This wonderful scheme would enable developers to build anywhere as long as they provided an alternative site for any wildlife that they may disturb.

The government, backed by landowners and developers, has stated that any damage to the environment will be compensated for by bio-diversity offsetting and there will be no overall loss of diversity. In excess of 140 environmental and development groups, including Friends of the Earth and Save Our Woods (UK) have signed a statement condemning these plans.

Reports from Australia, where offsetting has been employed for some time, show that deforestation has increased in one state and that there is a disparity between the principles and practice of offsetting. Research has shown that it is not feasible to devastate wildlife in one site and easily re-establish it in another – it simply does not work like that. There are six pilot offsetting schemes currently underway in Britain but since they are as yet unfinished, we do not know how successful or not they have been.

The government has already relaxed planning laws to allow more development and bio-diversity offsetting is obviously about allowing more intensive development where land prices are high by offsetting wildlife into areas where land is cheaper. This goes hand in hand with the ‘greenest government ever’ allowing development on high grade agricultural land instead of the many brown field sites that remain undeveloped.

Surely, more considered planning is the way to protect and increase our wildlife. Victoria Nicholls. Transition Deal

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