Natural England 'struggling with understaffing, slashed budgets and an increasing workload'

A report that 'thousands of environmentally important sites across England are coming under threat as the government body charged with their care struggles with understaffing, slashed budgets and an increasing workload' features in today's newspaper round-up.

The Guardian reports that "Natural England has wide-ranging responsibilities protecting and monitoring sensitive sites, including sites of special scientific interest (SSSIs) and nature reserves, and advising on the environmental impact of new homes and other developments in the planning stages". But the paper says the agency's employees and other interested parties have told it that "these activities are being impaired by severe budget cuts and understaffing".

The Guardian also reports that a specially-commissioned report for the Labour party has said that a "future Labour government should use funds from a national investment bank, targeted transport spending and buying British as part of a long-term strategy to spread economic prosperity to the struggling regions". The paper says that the report, produced by a team from Sheffield Hallam University, "called for funding from the national investment bank – a key plank of the opposition’s economic strategy to be heavily skewed in favour of communities hard hit by the decline in manufacturing".

Writing in the Times (subscription), Sir John Peace, chairman of business body the Midlands Engine and sub-national transport body Midlands Connect, says that the High Speed Two rail project is "the defining infrastructure project of a generation". He writes: "Not since the motorway-building boom of the 1960s and 1970s has the UK had such a chance as HS2 to revolutionise our country’s transport system and invest in the whole economy."

The Daily Mail reports that "residents in the picturesque seaside town of Poole are furious at a 50ft high mountain of rusting cars looming over their homes". The paper says that "piles of old vehicles have built up at the Charles Trent scrapyard in the Dorset town, overshadowing gardens of neighbours houses". It adds that "locals are angry that the five-car stacks do not count as a 'permanent structure' so do not require planning permission and cannot face action".

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