RADICAL new measures for the promotion of rural communities and wildlife announced yesterday in the Queen's Speech to Parliament have met with a guarded response from a wide range of conservation organisations.
The Natural Environment and Rural Communities Bill will, amongst other things, create a new agency, Natural England, which is widely expected to take over duties already carried out by the Countryside Commission and English Nature.
The Campaign to Protect Rural England issued a statement welcoming measures to increase protection for landscape and wildlife but added: "The effectiveness of the legislation depends on the clarity and robustness of the legal duties given to the new agency and on the degree of independence it has from central and regional government."
The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds gave some of the proposed measures its "strong support" but doubted if new laws to govern merchant shipping and civil aviation would be strong enough to cut greenhouse emissions, particularly from airliners.
The proposed Marine Bill, which should improve protection of our coastal areas from over-fishing and pollution, was broadly welcomed by Wildlife and Countryside Link but it added:
"Britain's rich marine wildlife has been damaged through years of neglect, over-exploitation and inappropriate development. There is now an opportunity to make real change, and Ministers must seize it."