Natural England chief Sir Martin DoughtyEnglish National Nature Reserves and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty will receive £17m over the next three years.

Natural England chief Sir Martin Doughty

Natural England, the Government body charged with protecting the countryside, today also announced a massive £68m boost for green farming schemes. But the funding has come at a cost: 150 staff are being made redundant in a bid to save £4m.

And the Lost Ways Project, which was set up to record footpaths which had not been recorded on official maps, is being axed to save £1.1m. As we reported in March, the scheme has failed to reopen any disused rights of way. Any unmapped footpaths and bridleways which are not officially recorded will be lost to walkers forever by 2026, under the terms of the Countryside and Rights of Way Act.

Funding for the AONBs and NNRs is being maintained at current levels, despite cutbacks in Department for Food, Environment and Rural Affairs budgets.

A study into the proposed Severn barrage will get £300,000 and a further £1m will be spent on improving the marine environment.