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UK Government May Sell Off Met Office, Nature Reserves

Some of the most beautiful areas of Britain could be sold off and wildlife and countryside protection measures cut to the bone to meet expected 40% cuts in the budget of the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, it emerged.

Among the plans being considered by the government, which once declared itself “the greenest ever”, are selling off national nature reserves; privatising parts of the Forestry Commission; privatising the Met Office, one of the world’s leading research organisations on climate change; and withdrawing grants to British Waterways, which manages 2,200 miles of canals and rivers.

Natural England, the government’s principal nature conservation agency, has put forward 400 job cuts next year, and up to another 400 after that, potentially one third of its workforce.

There are also concerns that the Environment Agency, which looks after waterways, air and soil, will have to slash spending on pollution and waste controls and river protection after the environment secretary, Caroline Spelman, recently said she had made it “perfectly clear” that the government would maintain the level of spending on flood defences – which take up more than half the agency’s budget.

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