I admit that the title to this post is somewhat over the top but it is the vision that springs to the minds of many people I have spoken to about UK Environment Secretary Owen Paterson’s plans to increase development in England’s ten National Parks including the Lake District, the Peak District and Dartmoor. Now I would always be one of the first people to stand up for people in rural areas to improve their lives, especially those who are struggling to run rural businesses. However, I take issue with the very philosophy behind Mr Paterson’s strategy – ‘biodiversity offsetting’.

How is it really possible to mitigate the effects of destroying a hedgerow that has taken hundreds of years to develop to a specific ecosystem by ‘constructing’ ‘similar’ habitat elsewhere? What’s done is done. When one creates a ‘new nature site’ one is doing just that, ‘creating a new nature…

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