21st January 2008

The Bat Conservation Trust fears that proposed budget cuts could have a severe impact on biodiversity in the UK. The issue has been raised in the House of Commons by two MPs.

In a letter published in The Guardian on 17th January, BCT Chief Executive Amy Coyte joined with heads of seven other wildlife NGOs to outline her concerns over the proposed cuts.

"Dear Sir,

It is barely a year since the Government established Natural England as 'a powerful new champion of nature'. This commitment has quickly evaporated. Defra now seeks cuts of over 15% to Natural England's core budget, threatening the loss of up to 150 highly experienced staff or major cuts to core conservation programmes. Even more cuts are planned for 2009-10.

Our country has suffered relentless biodiversity loss over recent decades. The Government has promised both the European Union and its own electorate that this will be halted and reversed by 2010 - i.e. within 36 months at the most.

It will not be possible for the Government to meet this goal, and to do other vital work mitigating climate change, if it cuts back its frontline delivery agency.

We represent Non-Governmental Organisations that have pledged hundreds of thousands of hours of volunteer labour and millions of pounds to help the Government meet this biodiversity target. To have the rug pulled out from under us at this late stage would be the bitterest of setbacks. We urge the Government to reverse these damaging cuts and to honour its commitment to conserving the natural world and the UK's wildlife."

For further information: Jaime Eastham Bat Conservation Trust T: 0207 501 3635