Time to move conservation up the agenda


Readers respond to the call from a coalition of green groups for a national nature service to restore wildlife and habitats in England

Why reinvent the wheel? A national nature body was established under the National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act 1949; it was called the Nature Conservancy (‘National nature service’ needed for green recovery in England, groups say, 22 June). It still exists, albeit in fragmented form as Natural England, Natural Resources Wales and Scottish Natural Heritage. In recent years, under austerity, these organisations have been reduced such that they have been unable to fulfil their remit. Rather than establish a new national nature body, surely the time has come to breathe new life back into these country agencies and re-establish Britain as a world leader in nature conservation.
Stephen Ward
Arnside, Cumbria

The green coalition’s suggestion of a national nature service and its list of 330 projects to restore our land, coastlines and economy for a greener future is to be welcomed. However, it follows that any project that will destroy existing sites of specific scientific interest (SSSI) should not be allowed to go forward. This applies to EDF Energy’s application to build a new nuclear reactor at Sizewell in Suffolk which will destroy the Sizewell Belts SSSI, a nationally rare fen habitat, and the neighbouring Minsmere nature reserve.
Rae Street
Littleborough, Lancashire

If the idea of a national nature service does come about, one early job for its workforce should be to clear the plastic litter that blights our roads and motorways. I don’t say this for purely aesthetic reasons, although that is sufficient justification. My point is that the shortsighted view of local authorities and of Highways England permits grass-cutting teams to slice up the pieces of plastic along with the grass. With each cut they become smaller and smaller until they sink into the soil, where they continue to break down into microplastic before entering groundwater, waterways and eventually the sea. This one-off effort to clean up the country then needs to be followed by a wholesale change to all grass-cutting contracts in order to ensure that litter is always collected before cutting. This is, of course, in addition to the ongoing requests that cutting should generally be less frequent and later in the year in order to benefit wildlife.
Patrick Cosgrove
Bucknell, Shropshire

This article was amended on 24 June 2020. The name of the SSSI in Suffolk is Sizewell Belts, not Sizewell Betts as an earlier version said.


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