The small print in any budget is what is most revealing, often concealing behind the headlines what is unpopular or indefensible. It is now, as the details of the EU deal agreed last week becomes known, that we hear how it will undermine aspects of environmental protection which took years to achieve but the loss of which will affect many species quite disastrously.
The quid pro quo for the budget cuts is that the subsidies to farmers in Europe for leaving strips of land fallow for wildlife is to be stopped, meaning that vital habitat will be lost in favour of intensive farming. I heard, on an early morning farming programme on BBC Radio this morning an interview with a British farmer who had left 4 hectares of a 300 hectare farm untouched to enable stone curlews to live and breed: the result was that a precious and near extinct species of bird has recovered slightly and the signs for their future are hopeful - until now. The farmer said, very matter of factly, that without the EU subsidy she would farm those few hectares and "the birds will have to go": the RSPB spokesman said it would be devastating.
However, the news is not totally bleak. The EU Commission and the Parliament are very concerned about the potential impact of the Budget changes on the environment and are likely to resist them strongly. Indeed, the reduced budget itself, which must be agreed by the Commission and the Parliament, may find its passage difficult and the outcome is by no means certain. The countryside is increasingly important to many EU citizens, not just pressure groups, and it is no coincidence that the treatment of members of the plant and animal kingdom, wild or domesticated, is becoming a major focus for attention.
So, I do not despair for our environment, though sometimes I am amazed by the blindness of politicians who really do not help the rebalancing of the Planet. I will do what I can in my own way - and I am sure you will too.
is a spiritual teacher, channel and blogger with special interest in esoteric philosophy and the world in transition. Loves nature and wildlife. Author of “Spiritual Wisdom”.