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We are relieved at the government’s announcement that Natural England will not be merged with the Environment Agency. In response to the consultation by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) earlier this year on the triennial review of these bodies, the society had called for Natural England to be retained as a strong, separate agency, able to champion the environment, landscape, public access to and enjoyment of England’s outdoors.
Says Kate Ashbrook, our general secretary: ‘We are pleased that Natural England is not to be merged with the much larger Environment Agency, where its vital work on public access and enjoyment could have been swallowed up and lost.
‘It is encouraging that, in his foreword to the report on the triennial review, environment secretary Owen Paterson says that he had heard from many bodies how much they value the what the Environment Agency and Natural England do and how their services have improved significantly in recent years.
‘However, it is vital that government provides Natural England with sufficient funding to do this important work, and gives it the freedom to champion the value of open-air recreation and our splendid landscapes to the health and wellbeing of our population and visitors from overseas.
‘We are particularly fearful that the budget will be slashed for implementing access right round the England’s coastline and we are calling for the funding for this popular project to be maintained.’