When I first heard of ‘Biodiversity Offsetting’ in 2010 I thought it would be dead in the water very quickly – there was no way it would be seriously considered in the UK or further in Europe, after all it was hardly favourable in countries with vast expanses of wilderness and still with resources of more financial worth than the countryside itself.
I thought perhaps the NGOs would have killed this one off quickly, but instead the Wildlife and Countryside Link response last February was relatively tame. Subsequently the NPPF and the Chancellors comments make a mockery out of the few ‘concerns’ raised by Link.
And this scientifically impossible, heavily flawed, badly planned initiative starts in the UK next month with six pilot areas where it is to be trialled. In a year when drought conditions are reported in February, when pests and diseases are the on rampage and forestry and now planning are in the doldrums – this is the stupidest, most damaging initiative conceived for our natural environment and our eyes have all been averted elsewhere.
Moos’ Views & News, (Grasslands Trust blog), picked up on the Rt Hon Caroline Spelman telling the Eurosceptic MP George Eustice who is advocating “tradable biodiversity obligations”, that “He is ahead of his time with this thinking” – I do hope that is polite way of saying “that is political fatuity” because such an idea should stay well within the covers of a Ben Elton or Tom Sharpe novel.
But ‘biodiversity offsetting’ alone will inevitably persuade wannabe city whizzkids who didn’t cut the grade to buy a green fleece and a 4X4 and head into the shires to play a rural monopoly where the New Forest is Pall Mall and peri urban wasteland near slough is Old Kent Road.
A mist of corruption will settle on the English countryside, disenfranchising farmers, foresters and conservationists in favour of biodiversity brokers, pandering to their idols sitting in the square mile, who cannot be trusted with trading misshapen lumps of plastic let alone a square metre of field.
I believe in valuing nature in financial term as it makes possible a price tag to insure against damage along the lines of ‘the polluter pays principle’. Brilliant, because if, as we have seen in Shirley, Solihull, this month a developer fails to uphold their commitment in transplanting some valuable trees, (how did they think this was possible in the first place?) they have to pay for them – somewhere in the region of £25,000 to £70,000 approximately per tree and this could be ascertained pre planning application because all trees could have had a set value proportioned to it – thus developers need to offset their own accounts to see whether it is cheaper to change the design or pay for a new woodland somewhere, close enough to the population who have lost their trees in their place. Progressive development companies will of course hire a landscape architect in the first instance to help incorporate the development around the trees!
But this government are determined to embarrass themselves at having not only not grasped the basic principles of Teeb but abused it and further are actually planning to tell the world of their daft take on it at Rio +20, thus allowing an excuse for other countries to tow the land in their care rapidly towards environmental apocalypse also.