nene local | helen dawson


Category: Peterborough & Elton

Launch of Doubling Nature Action Plan for Cambridgeshire

This September, Natural Cambridgeshire is launching its ambitious action plan for doubling the area of rich wildlife habitats and natural green space across the region in order to create a world-class environment.


During an online event on the 16th September 2020, attendees can hear from keynote speakers Dame Fiona Reynolds and Lord Chris Smith. Plus, they will discover further regional initiatives to protect, preserve and enhance the environment. These include key landscape projects, local nature recovery plans, individual pledges, and a look at the benefits of nature-friendly farming.


Natural Cambridgeshire will launch four crucial initiatives designed to deliver the doubling nature ambition:


  1. A landscape-led approach, that will put Peterborough and Cambridgeshire firmly on the map of nature recovery as nature thrives across the county. Natural Cambridgeshire has identified five key landscapes with the potential to deliver significant benefits for nature and enhanced access to green open space for residents.
  2. A community approach – a toolkit of small steps that each community can make to double nature close to home – for example, if every parish in the county planted ten trees a year for ten years that would be nearly 40,000 trees!
  3. A doubling nature pledge through which individuals, businesses and other organisations can play their part in the ambition, whether it is planting more pollinating plants in gardens or greening up work-place car parks, there is something that everyone can do.
  4. Natural Cambridgeshire will also be announcing plans for a Doubling Nature Investment Fund, to provide the resources to make all this happen.


The health and sustainability of our environment has never been so critical: the climate crisis and loss of biodiversity has been further exacerbated by the economic, health and social challenges created by Covid-19. However, the pandemic has also brought communities together and enabled people to rediscover a connection with the natural world.


Nature-based solutions will play a crucial role in addressing the challenges of our climate emergency and in the post Covid-19 recovery. A recent survey by Natural Cambridgeshire reveals how 77% of participants said that visiting parks and countryside in the region had been very important to them during lockdown.


The RSPB’s ‘Recovering Together’ report provides clear evidence of public support for putting nature at the heart of our pandemic recovery. 89% of those surveyed believe that increasing the amount of accessible nature-rich green space will help to improve people’s general health, wellbeing, and happiness.


Doubling nature will deliver significant protection, restoration, and enhancement of key wildlife habitats for the landscape we know and love. Improved green space and access to nature will help people to enjoy and appreciate the nature around them, leading to healthier and happier lives.


Doubling nature will create a more resilient countryside and communities, where nature is at the heart of our approach to tackling the climate emergency. It will support a green transport infrastructure, where priority is given to walkers, cyclists, and riders. Doubling nature will also influence sustainable farming practices and tourism.


The achievement of these objectives will create a better quality of life for residents and visitors through a local environment with easy access to rich and inspiring nature.


Lord Chris Smith says: “Over the past six months we’ve re-learned and re-discovered how vitally important our relationship with nature is, for all of us, and how it helps us to grow stronger, wiser and happier. That’s true on a global scale as we face the challenges of climate change; but it’s even more true on our doorstep, and there’s no better place to start than here in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough.”


Dame Fiona Reynolds adds: “The urgent need to reverse nature’s decline is well known, but we are making desperately slow progress. The COVID-19 crisis has also shown us just how much we all need access to nature. The ambition to ‘double nature’ in Cambridgeshire could not be more timely or important.”


Richard Astle, Chairperson of Natural Cambridgeshire, explains: “Nature matters to us all – and Cambridgeshire and Peterborough have an opportunity to lead the way in helping nature to recover from its catastrophic local declines. Last year we set out the ambition of doubling nature. This year we are setting out detailed ideas for how we can all play our part in making that happen. And if we do, we can make our county an even better place to live, work, and visit. Doubling nature means more wildlife, it also means cleaner air and water and more places for people to walk, ride and cycle and enjoy green, open spaces.”

The ‘Doubling Nature in Action’ event will be held on Wednesday 16th September, 10am-12.30pm, via Zoom. Attendees can register for the event at:


RSPB Calls Out UK’s Lost Decade for Nature

RSPB calls out UK’s lost decade for nature as the UN reveals ten years of missed targets.


  • UK failure on international environmental targets revealed by the RSPB on eve of major UN report
  • RSPB analysis of the UK’s self-assessment reveals the picture may be worse than reported, raising doubts some targets have not been met and highlighting areas where the UK has regressed
  • The UK must recognise the opportunity to make urgent changes at home which can be used to provide international leadership ahead of negotiating the next global plan to save nature and the climate in 2021
  • To get nature’s recovery back on track the RSPB is launching the Revive Our World campaign, pushing for legally binding targets to restore nature by 2030 and ensure there is not another decade of failure

On the eve of a major United Nations report, which will show the international community has failed to halt environmental decline over the last 10 years, new analysis from the RSPB has revealed the UK’s self-assessment is overly optimistic as high environmental ambitions have not led to real progress being made.

The Global Biodiversity Outlook 5, published tomorrow by the United Nations, will contain no country-level breakdowns of how the UK has fared, but an RSPB report ‘A Lost Decade for Nature’, will reveal our true performance.

With UK wildlife continuing to decline and vital habitat being lost or degraded the ability of the governments of the UK to revive our world will depend on an honest assessment of the work needed. While the UK Government believes it has met a third of its targets, RSPB analysis shows the UK may have met as few as just 3 of the 20 international targets it agreed to a decade ago, and in six areas the UK has actually gone backwards.

A decade ago, ‘the Aichi Targets’ were hailed as the blueprint for saving life on Earth and reversing the terrible losses in wildlife and the natural environment seen over previous decades. The RSPB believes the cause for their failure was that the targets were not legally binding, so Governments around the world, including in the UK, were not compelled to act.

Beccy Speight, chief executive at the RSPB said: “Even the Government’s optimistic assessment should act as a wake-up call that words alone will not revive our world or tackle the twin crises facing nature and climate.

“Next year we have the opportunity to play a leading role in developing a new set of global targets to restore nature. But first we need an honest assessment that recognises we need to do much more at home. We have targets enshrined in law to tackle the climate emergency, but none, yet, to reverse the crisis facing nature. We cannot be in this same position in 2030 with our natural world vanishing due to inaction.”

To ensure the next decade is not again lost to inaction the RSPB is launching the Revive Our World campaign tomorrow, pushing for legally binding targets to restore nature and deliver a green recovery across all Governments of the UK.

The RSPB analysis reveals the UK Government’s key Aichi failures to be:

  • The UK’s wildlife is vanishing. The UK Government’s own assessment claims to be making progress towards saving our most threatened species, while all the evidence points to the contrary. According to State of Nature (2019) 41% of UK species are in decline and 133 species have been lost from our shores completely since 1950. In the most comprehensive assessment of nature in the UK scientists looked at almost 8,500 species, finding that over one in ten (15%) is threatened with extinction. There are no signs of these trends slowing.
  • Not enough land is being protected or managed for nature. Although the UK claims to be protecting large areas of land (28%) and sea (24%), closer inspection reveals that this includes National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty that are not well managed for nature, and Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs) that are in poor health and not adequately monitored. With recent reports of a lack of inspections or assessments, along with species loss at these locations, the amount of land protected and well-managed for nature could be as low as 5% of the UK. At sea, although new protected areas have been announced, only 10% of these are being actively managed.
  • Insufficient funding for nature conservation. During the past decade public funding for the environment and nature has declined in the UK from £641 million (2012/13) to just £456 million (2017/18), a drop of almost 30%. Adjusting for inflation this represents a decrease of over a quarter of a billion Pounds (£256m). Funding is vital for creating and protecting important habitat as well as ensuring the condition of our natural world is being monitored so action can be taken swiftly when needed. The UK Government claims it has made progress, but at an insufficient rate. The figures show otherwise.

Beccy Speight added: “This is a global issue, and something that will take a generation to resolve, however the hard work must start today. The UK is not alone in failing to meet the ambitious targets set out ten years ago, but it is now time that the high ambitions set by successive Governments becomes action at home as well as leading the international effort.

“We now need people across the UK to stand up for nature, to let our politicians know this is not good enough and we demand they revive our world. Every country in the UK must create legally binding targets to restore nature, invest in nature and green jobs, and support farmers to produce healthy food that’s good for people, climate and wildlife. We have to put our money where our mouth is and use the next decade to do something truly impressive.”

To put the UK back on track, the RSPB is launching a campaign to Revive our World that will give everyone a place to voice their concerns and outrage at the inaction of the UK, as well as proposing the legislation and priorities the UK and devolved Governments must set to avoid another lost decade. To find out more visit


Case study: the plight of the Wash and the Redshank 

The UK government states that 28% of land in the UK is currently protected for nature, but many of those protected areas are struggling.

The Wash in Eastern England, for example, is England’s largest Site of Special Scientific Interest and is currently listed as being in ‘favourable’ condition.

This is despite data from the RSPB showing populations plummeting for threatened species such as the redshank.

In some areas across the Wash this striking red-legged wading bird, often called the ‘sentinel of the marshes for their warning call, has declined by as much as 79%.

A drop that severe is meant to automatically trigger the listing of The Wash as ‘unfavourable’ – but a lack of funding for Natural England’s regular monitoring has let this go unnoticed.

The RSPB does all it can for these threatened birds at its wonderful network of nature reserves and beyond, but if the wider landscape is not well managed for nature as it should be, it will always be fighting an uphill battle.


Case Study: Our uplands up in smoke

Vast tracts of the UK’s uplands are covered in peatland habitats, which have been depositing carbon-rich peat for thousands of years. In places, particularly on flatter areas, the peat is metres deep. Though our upland peatlands are of international importance and home to special wildlife, they are in poor health, with large areas lacking precious peat-forming vegetation, especially sphagnum mosses.

Over the years, peatlands have been damaged by pollution (associated with the industrial revolution), drainage, livestock grazing and burning. Each of these, sometimes in combination, has had a negative impact on hydrology and peatland vegetation, with large areas now in urgent need of restoration.

The state of our upland peatlands is not helped by repeated burning to improve heather cover for red grouse. Despite peatlands being identified as sensitive (no-burn areas), peatland vegetation is still burnt each year, particularly in England and Scotland, to create a patchwork of young and old heather – grouse prefer to feed on young (more nutritious) heather and nest/hide in longer heather.

Upland peat bogs store an estimated 2,000 megatons of carbon. But our precious blanket bogs are in a very sorry state – in England they release 350,000 tonnes CO2 to the atmosphere each year – the same as 140,000 cars. And despite wanting to lead the world on climate change, our Governments continue to allow our uplands to be set ablaze each year.

The RSPB is calling for an immediate end to burning in the uplands and for peatlands to be restored, protecting the stored carbon, ensuring the peatlands remain wet and resilient to a changing climate (especially drought and associated wildfire) and allowing special species to thrive.


Unusual Mix of Products Lead Rise in Heatwave Sales at Central England Co-op

Central England Co-op has revealed some of the unusual items customers have been stocking up on during the current heatwave.

As temperatures across the country reached over 35C in some places, people looking to take advantage of the hot weather visited the retailer to pick up a range of items from soft drinks to snacks.

Some of the most standout or unusual findings included a spike in the sales of banana flavoured milk, Greek natural yoghurt, Galia melons and even trifle!

Sales since last Friday revealed that:

  • Soft drinks rose by 1% while squash sales leapt by 43% compared to the same weekend last year
  • Mixers were also on the up with tonic water rising by 16%, but the biggest growth came in ginger ale up 46%
  • More unusual rises saw Co-op Banana Flavoured Milk jump by 29%, salted peanuts 13%, Co-op Chocolate Trifle 42% and Co-op Galia Melon by 329% – four times as many as this time in 2019
  • A rise in people making smoothies saw fruit sales jump by 3.4%, including two times as many strawberry punnets being snapped up, and salads were the biggest growing category overall compared to last year with Co-op Cocktail On The Vine Tomatoes jumping a whopping 177%
  • People looking for something to go with their salads stocked up on artisan breads such as sourdough roasted tomato and basil, with sales up by 412%
  • Beers, wines and spirits saw large growth with typical summer drinks such as Pimms (+217%) and Aperol (+170%) nearly tripling in sales

Marta Foley, Customer Analytics Manager, said: “These findings show how customers react during a heatwave by not only going for the things they love but also items that are a little out of the ordinary.

“Salad, fruit, drink, beers, wines and spirits would all normally form part of a shopping basket at this time of year, but we were surprised to see people picking up everything from trifles to banana flavoured milk.

“This just goes to show that no matter what people want Central England Co-op stores are at the heart of the community for all shopping needs.”



Central England Co-op Outlines Plans on Face Coverings for Colleagues and Customers

Central England Co-op has outlined its plans for in-store face coverings in its food and funeral businesses, as the retailer continues to lead the way on safety measures during these uncertain times.

The retailer, which has over 400 food stores and funeral homes across 16 counties, is asking customers to follow Government guidance and wear a face covering when visiting one of its businesses.Central England Co-op has outlined its plans for the roll-out of mandatory face coverings

All colleagues will wear a face covering or visor while at work to ensure everyone plays their part in staying safe and healthy.

Debbie Robinson, Central England Co-op Chief Executive, said: “Nothing is more important to us all at Central England Cooperative than the health and safety of our colleagues and customers.

“Ahead of the official start date of the 24 July for customers to wear face coverings in shops, we will be asking colleagues to do so from today (Monday 20). This is to ensure the message is as clear and consistent as possible for everyone.

“Our colleagues have all been supplied with face masks for when they are working and will be playing their part in helping our communities to stay safe. We want our colleagues to feel comfortable wearing a face covering for up to eight hours at a time, and so are also ensuring more comfortable face visors are available to those who prefer to wear one.

Central England Co-op has outlined its plans for the roll-out of mandatory face coverings

Central England Co-op has outlined its plans for the roll-out of mandatory face coverings

“Some customers are rightly exempt from this request, for health or religious reasons. We have made these exemptions very clear on our website and all team members will be reminded of these important exemptions.  Priority access for NHS team members is still in place, to allow these front-line workers to be in our and out of store as quickly as possible.

“So we now ask all of our customers to wear a face covering so we know together we’re co-operating in our efforts to be safe.”

The new measures on wearing face coverings will sit alongside a range of others already in place at Central England Co-op sites, which have been very well received by customers.

These include:


On entering the shop:

    • Prominent markings installed outside stores so customers queuing to enter maintain safe distances of two-metres, as well as messages asking those customers who may have symptoms of Covid-19 not to enter the store.
    • Permanent hand sanitiser stations at the front of all stores and a one-way system in place permanently


Whilst shopping:

    • Specialist cleaning products are used to regularly wipe down the countertops and chip and pin machines, ATMs, baskets and trolleys
    • Clear markings installed throughout stores to communicate two-metre spacing. Customers are asked to maintain these distances while shopping and this is repeated frequently via in-store radio messaging


At point of payment:

    • Special markings installed to showcase two-metre safe distances while queueing
    • Team members are using every other till point or checkout to keep both customers and colleagues a safe distance apart
    • Special markings installed in front of till points and checkouts of at least one metre. If a customer needs to enter this area to place down a basket or use the keypad, colleagues move backwards to maintain a safe distance
    • Customers are asked to pay with card or contactless if possible
    • Over 1,000 plastic screens at till points and 7,000 face visors issued to staff.


People can keep up to date with what is happening in their local community by visiting a dedicated online hub at