The Countryside Alliance (CA) has distanced itself from conservation groups’ recent attack on the Government’s environmental record in the wake of the chancellor of the exchequer’s autumn statement.

In a joint letter to the press, conservation groups, including the RSPB, the Campaign to Protect Rural England, The Wildlife Trusts, Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth, wrote: The stunning disregard shown for the value of the natural environment not only flies in the face of popular opinion, but goes against everything the Government said in June, when it launched two major pieces of environmental policy, the natural environment white paper and the England biodiversity strategy.

The attack was in part directed at the Government’s decision to cut solar energy subsidies and its proposed reform of planning regulations.

In his statement, George Osborne said he wanted to ensure that “gold-plating of EU rules on things such as habitats” was not putting “ridiculous costs” on firms.

Environmentalists fear more damage from large-scale developments.

They cite the north Norfolk coast, the North Yorkshire moors, the Wye Valley and Salisbury Plain as areas of natural and untouched beauty that could be under threat.

However, the CA defended the Government’s policies.

Chief executive, Alice Barnard, stated: “I am concerned that the groups involved are failing to recognise the essential human contribution involved in maintaining our green spaces — and the extent to which the current financial climate is impeding on their ability to manage the countryside we all cherish.”

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