On the other side of the fence the grass is always greener. Post BREXIT it MUST be for the sake of our green and pleasant land!

On the other side of the fence the grass is always greener.
Post BREXIT it MUST be for the sake of our green and pleasant land!

Buff Tailed Bumblebee, April 2016, by Ruth Konigsberger.
Buff Tailed Bumblebee, April 2016, by Ruth Konigsberger.

I have been grappling with the consequences of the referendum vote and have attempted to share with you my understanding about the EU directives for Nature and Farming subsidies. We all need to be more clued up as our government will begin to frame new legislation or perhaps include EU ones. We must ensure that the UK becomes Greener however muddy the grass looks now. Nature deserves the best from us.

By 2016, the EU under the direction of Member States and the European Parliament has achieved the world’s best record of comprehensive directives and legislation to ensure the environment we humans live in and the rest of the biodiverse species that live in or visit Europe are protected. Protected from habitat destruction, air and water pollution, climate change.  Considering the EU started out as an elite club for business this record in my mind and that of many British conservation organisations had been a good reason to vote remain.

Profit before planet or planet before profit is a way of deciding actions in a very complex world.  Dare we continue to decide profit first? There is a terrific decline in the numbers of migratory and farmland birds.  Add to that the decline in our diverse range of pollinators. We will all profit if we protect the diversity of the natural world.

The wildlife trusts made a statement about why they advocated remain but also stated that whatever the outcome  it would need all organisations that care about nature to step up and ensure environmental protection is continued and improved. The cliff we are really on the edge of is a climate that will make supporting diverse forms of life more difficult. Habitat destruction, deforestation, loss of biodiversity, reducing carbon emissions and preserving water are paramount to all life on earth. The EU directives attempt to address this.
In Britain we should be proud of the role we have played in this within the EU. As a public we support many conservation organisations like the RSPB and have a love for the British countryside and nature. Even political parties at different ends of the political spectrum; UKIP and the Green Party, their MEPs voted against any relaxation in the EU directives and legislation which protects our rapidly dwindling natural world.

David Attenborough expressed his concern about the environmental effect of leaving the EU. It is now the time for all of the public, whichever way we voted, and the charities that look after our beautiful and green England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland to hold our politicians to account and ensure that our precious natural places, wildlife and countryside are at the forefront of new legislation and will abide by the EU directives for nature.

BUT we also have the thorn in the side of farm subsidies. Subsidies to support hardworking farmers manage when crops or markets fail may seem a good idea. However, these payments to farmers, landowners have not been without controversy in the history of the EU. From an investigative journalism website there were details of where this EU collected money went to in each country. Now I knew some of this but when I began to look at the ones that had benefitted from very high amounts I was shocked. From a farmer in Romania being given a subsidy of 400 euros to the Duke of Westminster( considered the third richest person in the UK) receiving half a million. His Polish distributors, Cogent received over 8 billion in dairy subsidies. Now, this might mean support for many farmers in Poland but it seems a lot. Finally,  there has been a drive to reform these subsidies.

Examples of EU work to reform aspects of farm subsidies

Luxembourg (2012) ‘Greening Instruments – menu for
Member States within the EU framework’. Presented to the
Special Committee on Agriculture. April 2012.

European Commission (2012) Concept paper – May 2012
Agricultural Council – Greening
IEEP (2012) Agriculture and Rural Development –
European Parliament rapporteur reports and conference on shaping the future CAP
Defra feedback at CAP Greening Workshop held on 5 October 2012.
The National Trust & The Co-operative Farms – ELS+
in England post 2014 – Report
Cumulus Consultants Ltd & IEEP – CC-P-570
Issue: 2.0
Date: 21.11.12

The Common Agricultural Policy ( CAP) reform is intended,
to address the challenges of climate change
and sustainable management of natural resources,
look after the countryside and help
make these subsidies …GREENER!

The E.U. pays out more than half its annual budget, around €53 billion, in farm subsidies, four times as much as the United States. The subsidies cost each European Union citizen around €110 a year, according to the European Commission, a healthy chunk for a family of four. The money is raised from customs duties, sales taxes and a contribution made by each E.U. country based on its wealth.

In order to make Farming and Environmental concerns link up and be more accountable there have been a variety of initiatives. Environmental Stewardship, Ecosystem Services and general Rural Development funding.

With the Brexit battlebus and the millions to be saved in money to the EU there has already been cries from various recipients of EU money to ensure continuity. Much has been invested by EU money through CAP, to charities like the National Trust with environmental concerns and other rural development funding. It seems in Cornwall there has been major investment in rural development and the plans were for this to continue into 2020.

I have read some interesting blogs on these and on ecosystem services and new ideas from the EU. Miles King Miles King
Jeff Ollerton Jeff Ollerton
Adrian Colston

The New York Times reports
At the same time, the E.U. was shifting more funds away from farmers to a rural development plan that paid out €8.5 billion last year. The idea was to wean the countryside off its addiction to subsidies by encouraging it to diversify.
The money, according to E.U. guidelines, could flow to any number of development objectives: organic farming, farm tourism, infrastructure, renewable energy products and rural businesses. National governments were given great leeway in choosing recipients.
e.g that is how a gravel manufacturer like Arids qualifies for farm subsidies, as did Pasquina, which collected €1.13 million for its new asphalt factory in Spain. The Spanish utility Endesa also was eligible — it received €466,000 for installing electrical connections.
Cargill — the mammoth food producer that is the largest privately held company in the United States, with revenues of €120 billion in 2008. Last year Cargill received at least €10.5 million, collecting subsidies in eight E.U. countries.http://www.nytimes.com/2009/07/17/business/global/17farms.html?_
Other sources for this blog
Lawton, J.H. et al. (2010)
Making Space for Nature: a review of England’s wild
life sites and ecological network
Report to Defra.
The National Trust & The Co-operative Farms – ELS+
in England post 2014 – Report Cumulus Consultants Ltd & IEEP – CC-P-570
Issue: 2.0
Date: 21.11.12

 

The UK  government with our pressure
MUST
1. Ensure the same if not better level of environmental protection and strengthen the EU nature directives. The UK helped create them.
2. Ensure any subsidies for farming is linked into the already good work achieved by many landowners in Environmental Stewardship. Have high standards for nature, farm animals and sustainable farming.
3. Public accountability and transparency in how this becomes UK law and is abided by.
4. Involvement of a wide alliance of environmental organisations in the development of any new regulations, use of tax payers money for farm subsidies, and further progress in keeping England greener than green.

We must ensure we are not ‘fracked off’ into the sidelines of environmental progress. I am not sure but I believe our role in the EU has helped lead on this. We can still help and support other countries in the EU and elsewhere through e.g Birdlife International and other groups but we will have lost the power to really influence the way the EU moves forward on the environment. We may just be too busy dealing with the outcomes of this post brexit world on our own environment and lives.

There is the loss. Nature has no Borders. There needs to be cooperation and leadership at this time in the world’s history. Joined Up thinking.

SO we must ensure we are GREENER on all sides of any fences. Then maybe,  just maybe there would be no need for fences.

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29 thoughts on “On the other side of the fence the grass is always greener. Post BREXIT it MUST be for the sake of our green and pleasant land!”

  1. Hi,
    I have been wondering what to make of the vote. I know these things are always more complicated than what is reported in the news outlets. I couldn’t agree more about cooperative thinking when it comes to the environment. Farm subsidies come under criticism here as well. I am not well versed on the topic even though I live in the middle of farm country. I know it was true for a while that the number of family farms was on the decline and the land was being bought up and farmed by large corporations. Then, the question becomes why are we subsidizing large corporations. There are still small family farms, though. I don’t know off-hand the statistics, but there is also renewed interest in small farms particularly organic farms in this area. The soil here is very fertile because it used to be prairie. I enjoyed looking at the photos you included. My Mom has visited the UK a number of times for a couple of garden walking tours and a few times with her church choir. She had a wonderful time visiting all of the green spaces and the gardens.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The U.K. Has some beautiful countryside. Maybe not the grandeur and vastness of the States but compelling and yes many beautiful gardens. Farm subsidies do seem to go to the rich landowners and something has gone wrong with food production.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Oh how I wish for a universal, international law to protect the environment. It’s my dearest wish. Cooperation and unity to protect what we have. We need a seed of inspiration, green shoots of hope, wings of progress and the breath of life.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Very good posting! I hadn’t even thought about this aspect of the vote yet and you give us a lot to think about. I do hope that the conservation groups in the UK can preserve the good aspects of EU regulations. They can form a new movement for this with your Birds without Borders title! Well done and fingers crossed for the future.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. sMiLes.. my friend navalsolnature.. i enjoy all
    the photos of Nature you provide here and very
    interesting information here and well concern for
    the continued stewardship of greener ways of life..
    after the BREXIT controversy for sure..
    And it’s funny per literal take..
    how.. although i am not
    up to date on all
    the ins and outs
    of this controversy
    there.. over here it is
    the conservatives who
    actually conserve the environment
    less.. as they seem to value material
    items and money moreover the living
    stuff.. including taking care of the less
    advantaged pARt oF Nature who can
    be human too.. but truly things are
    much better than when i was
    younger in the states here..
    as i remember jogging
    in the early 80’s behind
    all the smoke of fume
    machines that were
    automobiles then.. and
    the area plants were pumping
    stinky pollution in the skies and
    rivers to the point that even after
    improvement some areas sTILL more
    or less are a toxic waste dump attempting
    to finAlly come back to liFE more than bEfore
    when no one ‘up top’.. seemed to care at
    ALL about the environment as money
    and stuff was number one.. anyway
    glad to see your efforts here
    to keep your land my land
    and our land same as we
    for generations to come
    Green Green Green and more Green..:)

    Liked by 1 person

  5. What a useful and interesting post. I am grateful that we have the internet so we can compare notes as to what is going on from the point of view of the rest of us instead of only having the mainstream media to go on. Thank you for that window on your neck of the woods.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Important post navasolanature. I also second Opher’s comments above about universal, international laws for the protection of nature. But with nationalism so strong I’m not sure how it can happen. There needs to be some kind of overarching authority overseeing this issue. The days of allowing big business and it’s anti-environmental “think tank” spokesmen to continue to intentionally mislead should be over. The days of haphazard protection of the environment based on where one lives in the world should be over.

    About subsidies, yes. There is a carefully crafted and maintained myth about the need to coddle “hard working” farmers and ranchers. I won’t go there except to say that there is a LOT of room for improvement for all of the special consideration these interests receive IMO.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Yes, to so many of the other comments about the environment. Maybe the UK can discover more of the deep respect for small scale enterprise and agriculture that Germany and France have, in the past, displayed and marry that to the protection of local environments. Hopefully, the UK can do 3 other things…delay, don’t rush into anything because Juncker thinks you should, walk back a bit from the simplistic, non-binding referendum and also find a way to respond to the real needs of those who have been neglected by the economic developments of the last decades, and then have another finer, longer, non-expert, non-economist dominated, expression of public feeling in some more leisurely, complex national process of consultation other than the blunt weapon of a referendum…then maybe a viable way ahead can be seen.

    Truth and reconciliation in UK politics instead of spin and hostility? Nah, can’t be done, cannit?

    It could all do with more photographs of butterflies and laughing pigs!

    Inigo

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Inigo, very sensible and such insight into our referendum mess. I hope there will be a way forward and a more just approach to workers and working conditions. The environment might just stand a better chance!

      Like

  8. This really was a wonderfully written post with tons of informative facts to support it. I am headed over to the UK in a few weeks and have been wondering about how the break from the EU is going to affect both science and environmental concerns. I suppose the economics of the UK will be fine when it all gets sorted out, but what I have read on science funding sounds a bit worrisome. And of course, the birds. So much news on them too. At least they don’t need passports! LOL.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Well, it certainly has been an unholy political mess and a real show of discontent. I think the EU is the scapegoat but current economic systems are not creating any wealth for many regions and people in wealthy countries. I hope the migrant birds keep winging over and can be protected internationally.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. I totally agree with your thoughts about environmental protection. Other than securing Social Security for the future, my biggest concern as we muddle through this election year in the US, is ensuring the candidates (and subsequent president) understand the vital importance of saving the planet over enriching the corporations. If we lose the planet, what do we have?

    Liked by 1 person

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