Farmers union slams UK environment goals as ‘irrational, unachievable’
UK's NFU highlights concerns about water contamination, tree planting, and rewilding goals.
UK's National Farmers' Union (NFU) questioned the government's proposed targets for water pollution and tree planting, not to mention rewilding, describing them as "irrational" and "unachievable", as per documents released by the environment department.
The government was compelled to set legally enforceable targets for nature recovery and environmental improvements under the 2021 Environment Act.
It began consultation on such aims in March 2022, advocating, for example, an increase in the tree canopy and forest cover in England from 14.5% to 17.5% by 2050. Initially, targets for reducing water pollution were set for 2037.
There was some dissatisfaction after the consultation ended and the targets were released. The aim for tree canopy had been decreased to 16.5%, while the target for water pollution had been pushed out to 2038.
According to the newly released consultation documents, the NFU's answer was harshly critical of the initial recommendations.
Simultaneously, the lobby organization, which represents influential voices in the agriculture sector, said ideas to limit nutrient contamination from animal waste and fertilizer were "irrational".
Addressing the government, the lobby added, “Broadly, we consider the level of ambition across the nutrient targets to be unachievable, inconsistent, and irrational. The NFU and its members are committed to building on past successes and further reducing nutrient losses to the environment from agriculture. However, this effort must be balanced with the need to produce food, fiber, and energy on farms, thereby protecting the rural economy and maintaining food security.”
The Union also stated that it did not agree with aims for reversing species extinction and specifically opposed restoring extinct species.
It warned against "adopting a strategy that risks destroying the social fabric of rural communities" if the concept of rewilding was to be implemented.
It also stated that the 17.5% coverage aim for tree planting was overly aggressive.
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