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Brexit: ‘Raid’ on Natural England staff condemned by MPs

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Wildfowl and Wetlands Belief

Treasured wildlife habitats and websites of particular scientific curiosity (SSSIs) are in danger on account of ministers’ preoccupation with Brexit, MPs have warned.

Atmosphere Secretary Michael Gove has been accused of “decimating” Pure England, the physique that oversees such websites, after it emerged 50 of its workers had been moved to Brexit-related work.

The redeployment means work in some low-priority areas is now on maintain.

However Mr Gove insisted monitoring of SSSIs had been taken on by different workers.

The Division of Atmosphere, Meals and Rural Affairs (Defra) has one of many largest Brexit-related workloads, given the foremost adjustments on the horizon for the UK’s farming and fishing industries exterior the EU.

In a letter to the Environmental Audit Committee, Mr Gove stated his division was hiring 2,000 further workers to take care of Brexit-related issues and that 1,800 of those have been already in publish.

However he additionally revealed that 400 workers had been transferred from different public companies beneath the division’s aegis, together with:

  • Pure England
  • the Atmosphere Company
  • the Rural Funds Company

From Pure England alone, 50 workers have been drafted in, on two-year secondments.

Mary Creagh, the Labour MP who chairs the cross-party committee, stated this was worrying given the very important statutory work undertaken by the company in defending the UK’s pure atmosphere.

“Pure England should not grow to be a poor relation to Defra,” she stated. “Ministers should guarantee the dear work it does to guard biodiversity is given the precedence it deserves.

“Preparations for leaving the EU should not get in the best way of defending our treasured pure areas and iconic British wildlife.”

‘Brexit bluster’

Inexperienced Occasion MP Caroline Lucas stated the “raid” on Pure England compounded already deep cutbacks on the company, whose funding for safeguarding the UK’s 4,126 SSSIs had been reduce by 55% since 2010.

She is looking on Mr Gove to bolster the company’s specialist pure environmental officers directly.

“This letter proves Michael Gove’s promise of a inexperienced Brexit is pure bluster,” she stated.

“The federal government’s poaching of Pure England workers for Brexit work is the most recent in a string of cutbacks which might be decimating the company that appears after irreplaceable habitats and exquisite landscapes.”

Of the 50 workers who’ve transferred, 13 have been beforehand devoting 50% of their time to engaged on SSSIs.

Mr Gove stated these obligations had been handed “to others to soak up”, emphasising that his division would proceed to fulfil its statutory duties by hiring workers on a brief foundation or selling inside.

“When figuring out candidates for secondment, consideration was given to making sure the potential influence on Pure England’s key efficiency indicators was minimised,” he stated.

However he added: “Secondees’ substantive roles which aren’t deemed a excessive precedence have been left unfilled and work reallocated or paused for now.”

SSSIs are designated on the grounds of their particular conservation worth, by way of their wildlife or their geological or topographical traits.

Pure England is predicted to examine most websites a minimum of as soon as each six years to verify they continue to be in a “beneficial situation” however MPs have warned 47% haven’t been examined since 2012 in breach of tips.

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