A dozen new Nature Improvement Areas created by the Government aren’t enough to protect “treasured wildlife”, according to campaigners.
This week Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman revealed the new nature zones will cover hundreds of thousands of hectares across England.
Each site will get a share of £7.5 million to create wildlife havens such as heathland on brownfield sites, a seven hectare lagoon and wildlife-friendly dewponds for birds, butterflies and amphibians.
But environmental group Friends of the Earth wants more serious planning reform to safeguard threatened habitats.
Friends of the Earth’s Senior Nature Campaigner Paul de Zylva said: “Dedicated conservation areas are a first step towards protecting our treasured wildlife which is under threat from modern farming methods, new roads, drought and climate change.
“But 12 sites are nowhere near enough to safeguard the £30 billion in health and welfare benefits that Britain’s natural environment brings in each year.
“The Government must show it’s serious about restoring habitats when it announces planning reforms in a few weeks – by saving forests and greenbelt from development and placing nature at the heart of its policies.”