RSPB reacts to EU budget cuts
The RSPB has described the European Budget deal, which has seen potentially huge cuts for payments for wildlife-friendly farming, as ‘a regressive deal for wildlife’.
Martin Harper is the RSPB’s Conservation Director. He commented on the outcome of the budget saying: “Wildlife across Europe will pay a heavy price for this terribly regressive deal, and we’re bound to see further declines in some species whose numbers have crashed. Since the 1980s Europe has lost 300 million farmland birds, how many more will we lose over the next seven years?”
The deal, which was agreed upon by government leaders on Friday, cuts the amount of money that will be available for conservation by just over 11bn Euros. And, on top of that, it will also allow all of member states to raid what little is left in the conservation pot and siphon it off into untargeted subsidies.
Martin Harper added: “This is a bad deal for Europe’s wildlife, providing flexibility for a race to the bottom. But there is hope for the UK, a country which has led the way in investing in wildlife-friendly farming.
“The Secretary of State, Owen Paterson, and his counterparts in the devolved administrations, now need to take the necessary decisions to make good on their environmental promises. This is nothing less than those 30,000 RSPB supporters who contacted David Cameron this week would expect.
“This means using the flexibility to shift as much funding as possible from direct payments into Rural Development, the bit of the CAP that can really drive more sustainable farming.”
Before the revised negotiation the United Kingdom received around £500m for wildlife-friendly farming payments, however, a previous study has shown that at best this was only half of the sum that was required to fund environmental priorities.
The RSPB has said that the need for concerted action to restore farmland wildlife in the UK remains as large as ever. Some typical farmland species, like the skylark, have shown massive declines. Since 1978, the UK has lost over 350 skylarks a day; that’s one every four minutes.
The RSPB has also stated that it hopes that Owen Paterson - the Environment Secretary - and his colleagues in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, will show leadership in this situation. The organisation has called for the politicians to use their powers wisely in order to ensure that as much funding as possible goes towards those farmers and land managers who provide the greatest benefits for the wildlife and the countryside.
In excess of 30,000 RSPB supporters lobbied David Cameron to vote for Nature at the European Budget meeting by voting for a favourable outcome for wildlife.