People Power; Shaping England’s Nature

By Paulette Cully

With the aim of being the greenest Government ever, the present incumbents have made the delivery of a Natural Environment White Paper a top priority, which they hope to publish in spring 2011. In preparation for this the Department for the Environment and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) published the “Shaping England’s Nature” discussion document in July this year.  Its aims are to encourage debate over how we can best protect and improve our natural environment. The article highlights our multifaceted regard of the environment. On the one hand the environment has great personal importance to individuals who enjoy it thorough it’s “green spaces, countryside, wildlife, rivers and seas” and “the quality of life in all of our communities”; whilst on the other hand the natural environment “underpins our economic prosperity, our food security, our health, our ability to adapt to a changing climate and to reduce the greenhouse gases which cause this change”. However, in the past the two sides have been in conflict, rather than being mutually inter-reliant  they have been regarded as competing choices. The consultation document gives us the opportunity to be the generation which puts this right, so that rather than limiting damage to the environment we can enhance it. DEFRA points out, that a vibrant natural environment is necessary for economic recovery and sustainable growth.

For a valuable insight into present day environmental policy making, its’ regional variations and the value of people power, Kate Muir et al have written a fascinating article in Area, “Shades of green in local authority policy-making: a regional case study”.  The authors show that there are clear intra-regional environmental policy dissimilarities in both level and form.  The paper also suggests that in part these differences may stem from the presence of environmental policy “champions” in positions of power and influence and environmental pressure groups who are able to communicate environmental agendas to local policy makers; thus demonstrating the importance of our say in environmental matters.

With that in mind, download the DEFRA consultation document to read their proposals; now is the time to have your say in the future of our environment.

 Click here to download the discussion document and have your say online 

 Click here to read the Muir et al article, (2000), Shades of Green in local authority policy-making: a regional case study, Area, Volume 32, Issue 4, Pages 369-382  

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