Defra's overstretched marine budget would be cut under Tories
1st September, 2004
The seabirds of Shetland and Orkney are in ‘deep trouble’, according to the RSPB. Could this be the first real indicator that our lives are about to change quickly and dramatically as a result of climate change?
So shadow chancellor Oliver Letwin has looked at the environmental empire known as the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), and he is not best pleased. ‘I can save nearly half a billion pounds,’ he announces. ‘Many jobs will go.’ Well, it might all be pretty moot, as Labour probably has at least one more victory to draw from its shamanic pouch of power.
Nonetheless, there’s one aspect of his plan that needs a second look. Among the thousand-jobs-to-be-cut-heres, and advertising-budget-to-be-cut-theres, sits an intriguing statement: remove the Sea Fisheries Inspectorate (SFI) from Defra’s core activities. The SFI has the following brief: enforcement of UK and European legislation on sea fisheries, fish marketing, and the marine environment in England and Wales.
The day after Letwin made his announcement, the marine environment suddenly came under the spotlight in an extraordinary way: the seabirds of Shetland and Orkney, reported the RSPB, are in deep trouble. Although ‘deep trouble’ can often mean something like a 20 per cent population decline, this was different. Around 170,000 pairs of guillemot breed on Shetland each year, along with...
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