If we could see like a swift, we’d see how planning and farming policies affect our landscape.
We could see how together our farms, our homes, gardens and public spaces could give wildlife the nationwide network of spaces it needs to thrive. By getting involved with two important Government consultations on planning and farming that are happening now we have a rare chance - right now - to do this.
In an unprecedented move, the government is asking the public what they think about the future of national farming policy and planning policy at the same time. The consultations are open until Tuesday 8th May (farming) and Thursday 10 May (planning). The rules that guide farming and planning both have a huge impact on our wildlife. Intensive farming and urban development have contributed massively to the decline of our wildlife in the past 100 years - but we can turn this around. You have an opportunity to influence the future of nature in England by responding to both consultations. There are also specific risks that need action from Government, for example Local Wildlife Sites are not mentioned at all in the draft Planning Policy guidance. You can read more below or go straight to the details on planning here and farming here.
What you can do to help
We need all supporters of wildlife, including the farmers and developers who are on wildlife's side, to respond to both the planning and farming consultations and ask the government to prioritise the needs of future generations and our natural world.
1) Respond to the Government consultation on the draft National Planning Policy Framework
2) Respond to the Government consultation on the future of national farming policy
3) Tell your friends and family and encourage them to get involved and respond too
4) Follow the conversation on Twitter by following #ActSwiftly
This is a rare chance to ask for a much more visionary approach to the environment – for each of us to call for planning rules and farm support and regulation to point in the same direction, towards the recovery of our nature and wildlife. This is possible but to do this we need to map out a nationwide network of places for wildlife. We think this is clear to a swift
Seeing our landscape with a swifts-eye view
Swifts spend almost all of their time in the sky swooping over fields and rooftops. With their bird’s eye view, they can see how agriculture overlaps with our buildings and roads. They can see how our towns are growing. They can see when hedgerows go and fields get bigger and when beautiful woods or meadows are lost. They can see both the catastrophic changes to the landscapes we love and the improvements we can sometimes bring about, in a way that we just can’t.
If we could see like a swift, we’d see how our housing, hedges, field margins, gardens, riverbanks and road verges could be wilder and more joined-up, to give wildlife the space it needs to thrive and move around.
We all need nature. Swifts need healthy farmland full of insects to eat and houses where they can make their nests and raise their young between bricks and under our roofs. People need nature around them in the places where we live and work to improve their quality of life. Farmers need healthy soils and habitats to grow food, avoid polluting rivers and ensure pollinators like bees have the habitat they require.
If you agree please help at this critical time. The deadlines are 10th May for the planning consultation and 8th May for the farming consultation. It’s time to act swiftly! Find out more about the consultations and how to respond below.
Find out more about the Planning consultation
The Government has launched a consultation to ask for views on a major overhaul of the rules that guide planning for development: the National Planning Policy Framework. Whether this is one or two houses at the end of the road, or a major 5,000 house development, these rules will shape the future of housing. It sets out the way that different kinds of development should be located, designed and built, and what infrastructure and services are needed. About 36 square miles of land are used by new developments every year, so the outcome of this consultation is hugely important for wildlife.
We want to see rules that:
- Protect wildlife and secure recognition of Local Wildlife Sites (which lose protection under the current proposals)
- Integrate wildlife habitats into new developments – for wildlife and people
- Commit to an improvement for wild species and habitats from all development (‘net biodiversity gain’)
- Require that new developments contribute to a national ‘Nature Recovery Network’ by including this in local planning strategies
Find out more about how to respond to this consultation and our views on it is here
Find out more about the Farming consultation
The current Government consultation asks for views on where public money, in the form of subsidies to farmers, will be spent in the future. It will also help to establish how the rules and standards for land management should be set and enforced.
If we are to secure nature’s recovery we need a revolution in the way that we manage our farmland. What works for wildlife can be good for farms, too. Farmers need healthy soils and huge populations of pollinators, like bees, to grow crops. We need clean, healthy water running into our rivers. We need a wildlife-rich countryside to spend time in, and feel happier and healthier as a consequence.
To ensure this, we want to see rules that:
- Reward farmers and land managers for the benefits they provide for society, like clean water, healthy soils and a wildlife-rich countryside
- Replace the Common Agricultural Policy with a system that supports public benefits and environmental outcomes for society
- Make it easier for farmers to help nature through changing the culture of regulation, including through better use of technology to identify where farmers and land managers are following the rules (which would free up more time for delivery)
Find out more about how to respond to this consultation and our views on it here
Pictures: Top picture of a Swift: John Bridges, second Swift: Stefan Johansson and bird'd eye view pic: Stock image