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Government demotes nature

10th February 2022

There’s a gaping hole in the Government’s Levelling Up the UK’ White Paper

The Government says it supports the natural world. So why, in its latest pronouncements on making life better has it levelled down nature? Bad choice or serious mistake in the ‘Levelling up the UK White Paper?

All out health and wealth comes from the resources that are found in the natural world. These resources are scarce because they all come from just one planet, Earth. So why is this natural capital omitted from the foundation list of what needs to be accounted for when Levelling Up?

If we continue to omit nature from the way we make plans and decisions, and just base those plans and decisions on the old-fashioned economics that have got us into the mess we are in at present – with climate change and water supplies etc – then we will continue to take bites out of nature and nature will bite back harder and harder. So, a Levelling Up course correction is needed, and fast.

The trouble is that all too often old-style economic factors dominate. Social matters – like supplying truly affordable homes for local people – and environmental matters – such as ensuring there is enough water for nature, people, farming and business – often seem not to feature in decision-making at all. Nature’s capital must be just as much part of decisions are other kinds of capital drawn on to investment in the future.

Does any of this matter to Sussex? Well yes it does, because the Government Department that is setting the Levelling Up agenda is the same one that determines housing numbers; will have oversight of what seem like the increasingly odd plans to expand Gatwick; and that has the last word on planning applications and how much money developers pay towards our social and environmental infrastructure, such as schools and enhanced biodiversity.

The serious omission of nature from Levelling Up White paper needs to be corrected.


Response by Prof Dan Osborn, Chair of CPRE Sussex, to the ‘Levelling Up the UK’ White Paper: Government demotes nature