Environment secretary calls for input into environment

Environment secretary Caroline Spelman has visited Kew to launch a discussion document into Defra's "Big Society" natural environment white paper, which aims to get public views on their priorities for protecting the environment.

Spelman told HW: "This is a different approach to policy making - the Big Society approach. The document has a number of questions that we ask people to address so that we can gather all the ideas together into one big paper.

"I think a lot of gardeners, like myself, want to do their bit to help and they are very concerned about the loss of species. People just want to know what to plant and people are beginning to realise the importance of inter-planting."

She added: "It will raise public awareness about the loss of biodiversity. People are perhaps not aware of the bigger picture. I'm very keen to link up understanding of climate change with biodiversity. I'm hoping that this white paper will contribute to making that possible."

Parliamentary under-secretary for natural environment and fisheries Richard Benyon said: "With this piece of work we can throw together an enormous amount of expertise. I want everyone to contribute because we can't go it alone. We want to make sure that this is not something which is written in Whitehall and remains there."

He added: "It's vital that people do respond. We will be setting up a range of discussion groups, which will be touring around the country. The white paper will define how we manage and how we understand our natural environment."

Stakeholders are invited to contribute to the discussion document over the next 12 weeks before the official white paper is launched in March next year.

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