Outdoors could lose out following government review

Posted by Catherine Flitcroft on 10/07/2013
The outdoors: could lose out following government review.

On 26 June, chancellor George Osborne announced government spending plans for 2015-16 and cuts to individual departmental budgets, taking us past the next general election. Projections show government spending is set to reach £745 billion by 2015 and further savings of £11.5 billion are needed. What does this mean for sport, recreation and our wider countryside?

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) is to suffer a further 10% cut to its budget on top of those deep cuts made back in 2010, from £2.4 billion to £1.6 billion. We’re yet to find out how this will impact on Defra’s work which includes responsibilities for the Forestry Commission and Natural England.

At what cost will these cuts impact on the natural environment? Will access to our countryside be jeopardised? That remains a great concern for many conservation and membership organisations including the BMC. 

The Times reports a Defra insider saying: “We’re past efficiencies and into very difficult decisions. Flood defence, animal and plant health can’t be touched – they are crucial, as we have seen in recent years. It’s the ‘nice to have’ stuff that will have to go.”

Similarly at the Royal Cornwall Show last month, the Environment Minister Richard Benyon described the roll-out of the English coast path and spreading room as a “sledgehammer to miss a nut” and hinted that it was set to be cut as part of government spending cuts.

The BMC has since written to Richard Benyon urging him to recognise the importance of the English coast path and associated spreading room and requesting government make a renewed commitment to rolling out the well established vision, particularly in light of the government’s support for the Britain on Foot campaign to encourage people to be active outdoors. 

This last spending round has also brought a 7% cut in budget to the Department for Culture, Media & Sport, which is likely to affect grassroots sport. However, the government is proposing to “protect” spending for elite sport in the run up to Rio 2016, building on the success of the 2012 Olympics.

Funding and support of local sport and recreation facilities may be affected by an additional 10% cut to the budget of the Department for Communities & Local Government. Further cuts to local planning & development services could also pose a risk to the environment.

The BMC is encouraging our members to join forces with the Ramblers and support their petition for the English coast path - the One Coast For All Campaign. We will also be working alongside Wildlife & Countryside Link (WCL) as we keep a close eye on the impacts of this latest round of departmental cuts to the wider environment. 

The challenge continues to be to demonstrate the importance of sport, recreation, leisure and tourism, which have enormous potential to deliver not only rural growth but also a range of benefits including improvements to public health, well-being and an increase in public understanding of the environment and farming.



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Anonymous User
10/09/2013
Elite sports. Well thats about 3% of the UK's population protected, Nice to feel cared about by the government in protecting our health and well being to get out and active.

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