Regulatory policy

RSPB ‘not ruling out’ direct action to defend nature of government policy | RSPB

The head of the RSPB says the bird charity is not ruling anything out as it organizes a mobilization of millions against what it calls the government’s ‘attack on nature’.

Beccy Speight has dismissed accusations from Tory MPs that the group was lying to its members and pursuing a marketing campaign, as it led a coalition campaigning against the government on key ‘growth’ policies which it says will hurt to wildlife and nature.

The chief executive said a meeting with the secretary of state for environment, food and rural affairs, Ranil Jayawardena, had given no assurance that the government’s growth policies would protect the nature.

National Trust chief executive Hilary McGrady accused the government of “demonizing” conservationists, saying its members were “outraged and worried”.

The RSPB made its concerns clear two weeks ago, saying: “Don’t get me wrong, we’re angry.”

Since then, he has joined with others including the National Trust, Wildlife and Countryside Link, and the Wildlife Trusts to fight government policies they believe will threaten protected habitats and species, endanger the clean air, water and national well-being and will penalize farmers who work to protect nature. Between them, the coalition has about 15 million members.

Speight said: “The public response has been overwhelming. I think it really touched a nerve for people.

Beccy Speight. Photography: Robin McKie/The Observer

“We are facing a really serious situation and that is why we have seen this coordinated response. It was not expected. It was a raising of concern two weeks ago and a feeling that we must make our voice heard. voice to try to defend nature.

The coalition’s concerns relate to:

The groups have encouraged their supporters to lobby Tory MPs over the proposals which they say strike at the heart of environmental and wildlife protection. In response, Tory MPs criticized the RSPB, accusing it of using claims of a government attack on nature as a ‘marketing ploy’.

Speight said: “There is clearly a generic response that MPs have sent. It is simply not credible to suggest that this is a membership drive. It has nothing to do with marketing; we have specific concerns that we have raised and we have not received any assurances regarding any of them.

“Our members are people of all political persuasions who are voicing their concerns and I think that shows how important this threat is.”

With few signs that the government is backing away from major policies of concern, Speight said the campaign would be stepped up.

“All options are open for what we do next. This is a really serious situation and we really need to make progress so that all options are on the table. We said we will mobilize our members, and we will.

When asked if the strategy would include direct action, Speight said, “We’re not ruling anything out.”

Justifying the strong response, Speight said there was urgency to the situation, with 41% of species in the UK in decline and 15% threatened with extinction.

“It could be really critical if they rip up those regulations. The goal of the government’s environment act is to halt the decline of species by 2030. There is a huge amount of work to be done to achieve that goal and I wonder if the government understands how much it takes to get there. to arrive at. The kind of proposals that have come forward over the past two weeks suggest not,” she said.

The RSPB was not mentioned in Liz Truss’ party conference speech last week, but Speight is under no illusions that the charity is seen as part of the ‘anti- growth” identified by the Prime Minister.

“We’re not anti-growth,” Speight said. “But growth is not just about GDP. We believe that growth must be done better, in a healthy and natural environment, which is essential if we want to build a strong economy in the long term.

“So it’s a question of how you go about it, and the messages we’ve been getting so far about growth plans don’t acknowledge any of that.”