Planned Government cuts in DEFRA(1) spending of £300 million which will hit coastal and river flood protection, climate change, canals, animal health will bear heavily upon the country(2). The Government has already reduced the importance of climate change and sustainable development in its Cabinet Committees and cut £200 million from the DEFRA budget last year.
Instead of getting the coastal and flood protection we need, it will be three years before promised increases in such spending reach Kent. This is despite pleas from the Environment Agency for such spending to rise from £600 million a year to £1 billion to meet needs. It is abundantly obvious that new housing on flood plains at Ashford and Canterbury needs a lot more protection and that the coastal defence of Sheppey must be renewed, not abandoned as in current Government plans.
Instead of supporting DEFRA in dealing with the challenges of foot and mouth, bluetongue and the outbreak of bird flu, the Government plans a further £300 million of cuts after cuts of £200 million last year. How on earth can DEFRA support farmers in Kent when across the board cuts will hit all of its departments and agencies?
The Government is spinning hard about its Climate Change Bill currently passing through Parliament(3). But it is cutting spending on climate change in the Government’s key department for this topic whilst still supporting airport expansion at Heathrow.
1. Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.
2. Reports in the Guardian, 17th November 2007; the Observer, 18th November 2007
3. It is also consulting about getting rid of the Home Energy Conservation Act which support energy conservation in homes, has tried to cut EU renewable energy targets and UK ones too an attempt which has caused such embarrassment that it appears to have been stopped and permitting further road building when walking, cycling and traffic reduction all need to be enhanced to resist climate change.
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