The UK government's plan to create 200,000 hectares of 'priority habitats' as part of a push to improve biodiversity has been criticised by environmental groups including the RSPB, the Campaign to Protect Rural England and Friends of the Earth as being too vague, in conflict with current planning priorities and lacking proper funding.
With little new money for the programme, the onus will fall mainly on farmers to opt in to subsidy schemes as part of the common agricultural policy, although the newly identified 'priority habitats' will be improved and restored. Urban green spaces are also earmarked for special attention.
Neil Sinden, policy director of the CPRE, told the Guardian: "Delivery will be frustrated, if not impossible, without a fundamental rethink of the government's proposals for planning reform," while Mike Clarke, chief executive of the RSPB, said: "We need a more determined focus on the health of individual priority species."
The UK is the first EU member to publish a biodiversity strategy following the international biological diversity conference last year in Nagoya, Japan.
To read the government's strategy document in full, click here.