England’s two main environmental agencies not to merge

Walkers on Pontesford Hill

Walkers on Pontesford Hill in Shropshire

We’re welcoming the news announced today by Owen Paterson MP, Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, that Natural England and the Environment Agency, the two bodies responsible for the environment in England, are not to merge.

After a review of the two bodies the Government has opted for a programme of efficiency savings and back office cut backs instead of a merger, which we believe would have endangered work to promote access for walkers.

“Keeping Natural England and the Environment Agency as separate entities is good for both protecting the environment and promoting public access to it” said Benedict Southworth, Ramblers Chief Executive. “A merger would have been a major distraction at a time when both the environment and the public purse are under extreme pressures.”

We’re still concerned that further cuts to Natural England could affect its work to promote public access to the countryside including the creation of the England Coast Path, which was thrown into doubt this month after remarks made by Environment Minister Richard Benyon.

“At a time when the government is focusing on infrastructure spending, we urge Natural England to protect this small investment and take the coast path forward” said Benedict. You can help by signing our petition for the England Coast Path.