There was coverage over the weekend in the Telegraph and BBC Breakfast reporting on calls for the government to do more to help the environmental sector during the coronavirus pandemic.
The Telegraph carried comments from the National Trust’s Director General calling for increased support for the environmental sector, and BBC Breakfast interviewed the Chief Executive of the Wildlife Trusts who urged the government to put the environment first as part of any recovery plan.
Environment Secretary George Eustice said:
“We recognise the vital work that the environmental and conservation charity sector do in protecting, restoring and improving the natural environment for the benefit of communities and the economy. The government has announced unprecedented support for businesses, workers and charities to protect them against the economic impact of the current public health emergency.
“We understand that several charities are taking up these support measures as far as they can, and the furlough scheme in particular has been useful in helping to avoid some of the most serious financial impacts on the sector. We are committed to working with the sector to understand the impacts of coronavirus, including how they can make best use of support available to them.”
Support includes the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and Business Interruption Loan Scheme; the deferral of VAT payments for the next quarter; grants for small businesses in the retail, hospitality or leisure sectors; and the £750 million funding package for frontline charities announced by the Chancellor recently.
Natural England’s Interim Chief Executive Marian Spain said:
“We are aware that many of our colleagues in the environmental and conservation charity sector may be facing financial challenges, along with concerns about maintaining nature sites during this challenging time.
“NE will of course continue the funding for the important partnership projects we deliver with our NGO colleagues and I am speaking to a number of organisations about how we can work together even more closely to face our common challenges, both now and in the immediate future, to minimise any impact on the natural environment.”
The government remains committed to progressing the Environment, Agriculture and Fisheries Bills at the earliest possible opportunity and continued engagement with the environment sector remains vitally important in ensuring the success of these Bills and their implementation over the coming years.