The Public Expenditure Statistical Analyses 2019 report by HM Treasury has revealed that the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs’ (Defra) budget has increased by £213m to £2,157m for day-to-day spending, known as the resource departmental expenditure limit (DEL).
Most of this increased budget is allocated for greater administrative costs and salaries due to Brexit preparations.
Despite this increase in DEL, spending on the protection of landscape and biodiversity continues to fall and has almost halved since 2016/17. Spending on research and development has also almost halved since 2014/15.
The dramatic decline in funding for landscape and biodiversity is at odds with the Government’s stated ambitions in its 25 Year Plan to restore biodiversity and recognise the value of nature to our social and economic well-being.
So far, the Government has been short on detail on how it proposes to do this. In order to restore stakeholder confidence, we now need to see, even more urgently, the actions it plans to take and how they will properly and sustainably funded.