Green group warns on environment

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The Independent Online
Environmental standards in the British Isles and surrounding seas continue to deteriorate in spite of growing public concern about green issues, according to a report published yesterday.

After the Government released its Sustainable Development Indicators last week, Green Gauge, an alliance of environmental organisations, announced its indicators, noting six areas of public concern.

Speaking at the launch, the environmentalist Jonathon Porritt, said: "Our environment is getting worse, even the Government's figures say so. There must now be immediate action to stem the tide of environmental degradation in the UK."

Six key areas highlighted in the Green Gauge '96 report:

t Vanishing species: more than 100 species have become extinct in the UK this century. Intensive agriculture has seen the loss of farmland flowers from 92 per cent of their traditional habitat and a decline in birds such as skylarks.

t Disappearing countryside: rural land has been urbanised at the rate of more than 11,000 hectares a year with traditional countryside features such as hedgerows still being lost.

t Fresh water: while the length of good quality rivers has risen from 45 per cent to 60 per cent since 1988, lack of water has become a threat to many others; 75 per cent of low rivers suffering from over-abstraction await long-term solutions.

t Transport: motor vehicle use is still rising as public transport use declines. Exhaust emissions cut air quality and contribute to the problem of climate change. t Coastal and marine: overfishing is one of the most serious problems facing the marine environment and the UK Government has failed to meet EU targets to cut its fishing fleet.

t Britain's impact abroad: less than 1 per cent of timber and pulp imported has been certified sustainable; overseas aid stands at 0.31 per cent of GDP, well below the UN target of 0.7 per cent.