A Labour government would save £192 million from the environment, food and rural affairs budget – mostly by ending the costly and pointless badger culls, the party has revealed.
Labour would save an estimated £24.5 million a year – £122.5 million in the next parliament by ending the Government’s inhumane and ineffective badger culls.
The party would establish strategies to increase the income of arms-length bodies like Natural England, including moves towards fuller cost recovery there, which could save £40 million in the next parliament.
It would improve water quality by supporting best practice in the farming and water industries and saving £4 million a year and £20 million in the next parliament in environmental protection spending. This involves freeing up £150 million for spending on environmental protection and rural development in 2018-20 by re-allocating payments made under the Common Agricultural Policy.
Labour would increase – by £2 million a year – income from environmental protection and abstraction charges, bringing in £10 million in the next parliament, and review the cost of other DEFRA agencies – to get a better deal for taxpayers and raise the proportion of regulatory costs that are recovered from the industries under supervision.
The report on DEFRA also highlights a series of wasteful and short-sighted measures under this government, including its failure on flooding and climate change: Failing to maintain to the appropriate standard three-quarters of existing flood defences, triggering an increase in emergency spending and storing up further costs for the future, and cutting the number of departmental officials working on climate change adaptation from 38 to just six.
“This Tory-led Government never should have pressed ahead with these ineffective and inhumane badger culls when they knew from the start that this policy had the potential to make the problem of bovine TB worse,” said Maria Eagle, Labour’s shadow secretary of state for the environment, food and rural affairs.
“Instead of ignoring the overwhelming evidence the Government must work with scientists, wildlife groups and farmers to develop an alternative strategy to get the problem of Bovine TB under control.”
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