Elizabeth Truss speech to Wildlife & Countryside Link (Sept 15th)


This speech at the meeting which saw the launch of the Blueprint for Water’s vision  

The speech is a very strange mix of the well-trodden Government path of supporting all things farming and economic with very little mention of nature conservation. It highlighted a number of points: 

  1. Does criticism of doing things in silo’s imply a merger of organisations – like the Natural Resources Wales model?
  2. She describes an environment planOne of the things we are doing at Defra is making sure that Natural England, the Environment Agency and Defra have a joint plan so that we are using our resources to the max and making sure that we use the experts in Natural England and in the Environment Agency not just to get things done on the ground but to help develop our thinking in terms of the way we approach things and the framework.’ Soon to be released for consultation
  3. Abstraction policy is highlighted …
  4. No mention of the spending review ….

Elizabeth Truss “Thank you very much to Zac [Goldsmith] and to Elaine [King] for their speeches. I think there is a lot in what you said that we are working on at the moment…and in particular the delivery framework and how we actually get things done and that is something that I do want to work on with everyone in this room and beyond. Because I think the big question is how. I think we do agree on the outcomes, what we want to see. We want to see a sustainable farming industry; we want to see environmental improvements. I think in the past sometimes things have been done in silos, which has meant we haven’t got the bang for our buck in terms of the funding and resources we put in and I think we can do things better. I think we can use data, we can use modern technology and we can use the expertise that we have accumulated and also the expertise of citizens around the country.


Liberal Democrats urge government not to Disband Defra 


Defra is refusing to comment on growing speculation about its future ahead of an autumn review of Government spending that is expected to remove further big chunks removed from its budget. The Liberal Democrats’ Defra spokesman has urged the Government not to ’disband’ the Department, as the Treasury considers how to make ends meet ahead of its autumn spending review. Concern over Defra’s future surfaced again at the Liberal Democrat party conference, as Baroness Kate Parminter stressed the importance of retaining the Department to ‘champion farming and the environment together’.

Most departments, including Defra, have been asked to find savings of up to 40 per cent as Chancellor George Osborne seeks savings of £20 billion by 2020 to reduce the huge Government spending deficit.

For Defra, which has seen its budget cut from £3bn to just more than £2bn since 2010/11, this has raised serious questions about its future viability. Civil servants have drawing up options for Departmental changes across since before the May election. These include transferring Defra’s farming remit to the Department of Business Innovation and Skills (BIS), separating this from its environmental remit.


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