To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what estimate she has made of (a) the cost to Natural England of monitoring sites of special scientific interest, (b) the number of Natural England FTE staff on (i) temporary and (ii) permanent contracts and (c) the amount her Department has awarded Natural England in its core grant-in-aid for each year since 2009.
Natural England’s costs for Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) monitoring consist of external spend of £0.2 million and internal staff time of £0.5 million (which includes landscape monitoring). The projected staff numbers for the end of the financial year 19/20 are (i) temporary full-time equivalent (FTE) of 88 and (ii) permanent FTE of 1,656.
Defra has awarded Natural England (NE) core grant-in-aid for each year since 2009 as shown in the table below. Natural England also receives ring-fenced grant-in-aid from Defra, some grant-in-aid from other Government Departments and income from other sources. This additional funding is for specific projects.
Over the last 5 years NE’s Grant in Aid budget has reduced by nearly 50%, but the fall in total expenditure is about 25% when increases in other NE income are taken into account - close to the Defra Group average of 23% across the same period. NE no longer has responsibility for management of the Countryside Stewardship and Environmental Stewardship schemes; although it continues to provide advice under these schemes.