10 key things that happened this week

10 of the biggest stories from the past week: Natural England shifts focus to deliver 25-Year Environment Plan; ‘People will die’ unless communities are moved, says EA chief; Housing developments halted over nitrate pollution concerns...

Natural England shifts focus to deliver 25-Year Environment Plan

Natural England intends to reorganise the way it works into four key priority areas in a bid to improve its capacity to deliver the ambitions set out in the 25-Year Environment Plan and its Conservation 21 strategy, ENDS can reveal. MORE

Climate emergency: ‘People will die’ unless communities are moved, EA chief warns

Parts of the UK “could be uninhabitable in a few decades” as a result of the “climate emergency”, Environment Agency chief executive Sir James Bevan warned, while promoting a consultation on a draft nationwide resilience strategy. MORE

Housing developments halted over nitrate pollution concerns

Hampshire councils have suspended granting planning permission near legally protected areas after Natural England said consents should not be granted unless developments are nitrate neutral. MORE

Environment Agency makes £3.7m civil sanctions haul

The Environment Agency has agreed a record number and amount of charitable payments for environmental offences, according to its latest half-yearly update on its use of civil sanction powers. It revealed that more than £3.7m had been given to organisations such as Groundwork and local wildlife and rivers trusts over 44 separate enforcement undertakings payments, made in lieu of prosecution. MORE

Natural England offers up to 50 redundancies

Natural England is offering voluntary redundancies for up to 50 staff members as it reorganises itself in a bid to be chosen to deliver key aspects of the 25-Year Environment Plan. The regulator is making a pitch to Treasury ahead of the comprehensive spending review settlement, which is expected later this year. MORE

DEFRA issues three new discretionary bird kill licences

The government has issued three new general licences for the discretionary killing of certain bird species, after the withdrawal of its former bird control licences sparked an outcry among landowners. MORE

Council’s £325 charge for accessing environmental information deemed ‘unreasonable’

A local authority’s attempt to levy a charge of more than £300 for accessing environmental information was “unreasonable”, the Information Commissioner’s Office has ruled. MORE

DEFRA’s slug pellet ban faces legal challenge

A producer of metaldehyde slug pullets has won permission to take DEFRA to court over its decision to ban the substance on environmental grounds. Metaldehyde-based products made up 85% of all slug pellet sales last year, but the substance is known to cause serious harm to birds and mammals, as well as contaminating groundwater. MORE

‘Thousands’ of endangered gulls killed in two years

Natural England has issued licences allowing the killing of at least 7,000 herring gulls between 2017 and 2019, even though the species is seriously threatened, according to data collated by a wildlife campaigner. MORE

Gove’s communications with hardline Brexiters remain off limits, watchdog rules

Environment secretary Michael Gove’s communications with the European Research Group (ERG), a backbench ‘hard’ Brexit lobby group led by Jacob Rees-Mogg, do not need to be disclosed, the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has ruled. MORE

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