RSPB warns merger could harm Hampshire’s wildlife

Government sells off HMS Ocean for £84m

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ENVIRONMENTALISTS have warned that Hampshire’s wildlife could suffer if an important government agency is lost.

Defra has launched a major review into its agencies, including Natural England and the Environment Agency.

One option on the table is to merge Natural England with the Environment Agency – a move RSPB South East believes would leave threatened species in the countryside without an independent statutory champion.

RSPB chief executive Mike Clarke said: ‘This review is a good opportunity to ensure these agencies are equipped to help the government meet its commitments to the natural environment.

‘The debate must not focus solely on whether to merge one organisation with another but also on the need for a strong independent champion for the natural environment.’

He added: ‘Natural England is one of the most important defenders our wildlife has in this country. It is critically important it is free to provide impartial and scientific advice.’