SURREY Wildlife Trust is urging residents to voice their opposition to government plans to reform the UK’s planning, agriculture and conservation policies, calling the proposals an “attack on nature”.

Trust chief executive Jane Chimbwandira has joined senior figures from the RSPB, National Trust and wildlife trusts across the UK to warn that abandoning key regulations that protect nature, while creating low-regulation “investment zones” with few planning restrictions, could decimate wildlife whilst putting habitats under threat from bulldozers.

Under the government’s new Retained EU Law Bill, ministers propose to abolish all EU-derived rules as quickly as possible, including the Habitat Directives, which have kept areas which are rich in threatened plants and animals free from commercial development and pollution.

Surrey Wildlife Trust has also condemned plans to remove the present moratorium on fracking, putting sites in Surrey at risk of air, water and sound pollution, and to drop proposals to help farmers look after nature and farm more sustainably.

Ms Chimbwandira added: “If we want our economy to grow and prosper over the long term, we must start working with, not against, nature so tearing up the laws that protect our wild places is not the way to improve people’s lives.

“In Surrey, our precious rivers, meadows, woodlands and heathlands provide clean air, water and food as well as an enormous boost to quality of life for people of all backgrounds and incomes.

“It is heartbreaking that the government proposes a free-for-all for frackers, polluters and developers, while abandoning plans to reward farmers for protecting and promoting nature.”

Wildlife trusts across Britain are reminding MPs and ministers that the Conservative government was elected in 2019 on a manifesto pledge to deliver the “most ambitious environmental programme of any country on earth” and that the weakening of vital environmental protections is abandoning that promise.

However, responding to Surrey Wildlife Trust, Woking MP Jonathan Lord told the News & Mail: “This is the greenest government ever, and I am surprised and disappointed that some organisations have decided to make premature and unsubstantiated attacks. Claims that we intend to go back on our commitment to the environment are simply not right.

“The environment, farming and economic growth go hand-in-hand. This government has already legislated through a far-reaching Environment Act and plans to continue to improve our regulations and wildlife laws.

“We are committed to halting the decline of nature by 2030 and will not undermine our obligations to the environment in pursuit of growth."

Mr Lord added: “New investment zones will indeed benefit from a liberalised planning process, so  we can cut back on red tape, but I am assured that appropriate environmental tests and measures will be in place for the zones.

“I would totally oppose fracking in environmentally rich or sensitive areas. Whilst the government has, after Russia's invasion of Ukraine, lifted the moratorium on fracking, it has also made it clear that it will have to have local consent and that it will not be allowed to exceed permitted limits of seismic activity.”