Nat­u­ral Eng­land chair­man re-ap­pointed

Country Life Every Week - - Town & Country -

DEFRA was due to an­nounce this week the reap­point­ment of An­drew Sells as chair­man of Nat­u­ral Eng­land (NE), one of its key quan­gos, un­til 2020. Mr Sells (right), a Glouces­ter­shire-based busi­ness­man and landowner, was first ap­pointed chair­man in 2014 at a time of up­heaval and cuts for NE; his ap­point­ment elicited an out­pour­ing of crit­i­cism from some en­vi­ron­men­tal groups, but he is con­sid­ered by oth­ers to have brought com­mon sense to de­bates on top­ics such as newts, bats, badgers, plan­ning per­mis­sion and HS2. The post is salaried and car­ries a com­mit­ment of 113 days’ work a year.

Mr Sells has writ­ten to his staff out­lin­ing six spe­cific am­bi­tions: more hen harriers in Eng­land, tougher penal­ties for wildlife crime, the in­tro­duc­tion of Con­ser­va­tion Covenants, a more en­light­ened ap­proach to species pro­tec­tion and li­cens­ing, re­formed farm sup­port post-brexit and the com­ple­tion of the round-eng­land coastal path.

‘Con­ser­va­tion is not about hold­ing things back, but about mov­ing things for­ward,’ he writes. ‘The way na­ture con­ser­va­tion has worked up to the turn of the cen­tury is no longer keep­ing pace with en­vi­ron­men­tal, so­cial and eco­nomic trends.’

Mr Sells says that NE’S fu­ture ap­proach needs to be more rel­e­vant and more peo­ple-fo­cused as well as plac­ing more em­pha­sis on longert­erm out­comes. ‘We need to adopt the best of EU en­vi­ron­men­tal leg­is­la­tion and im­prove on the weak­nesses. We need to move away from static pro­tec­tion of in­di­vid­ual sites and species and build func­tion­ing eco­log­i­cal net­works at a land­scape scale.’ KG

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