Natural England chairman re-appointed
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