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Environment & Food

Almost 8,000 Prospect members work in environment and food in a variety of key roles

Prospect's members in environment and food use their expertise to develop and deliver policy and carry out vital scientific research. Ironically a government that claimed to be the ‘greenest ever’ has reserved some of its harshest spending cuts for the environment, including a 29 per cent cut to the budget of the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

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One of the union’s biggest branches, Efra, covers people in core Defra and a number of agencies and non-departmental public bodies looking after:

  • the natural environment, biodiversity, plants and animals
  • sustainable development and the green economy
  • food, farming and fisheries
  • environmental protection and pollution control
  • rural communities and issues.

Prospect is also the union for scientists and managers employed by the research councils, themselves facing harsh cuts in their capital budgets. At the Natural Environment Research Council, members are involved in tackling issues such as climate change, biodiversity and natural hazards. The Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council supports world-class research in areas such as the impact of climate change, a healthier old age, and sustainable food production, land use and energy production.

We also represent staff transferred to universities from various research institutes, the Environment Agency and staff in the Forestry Commission across the UK, including research scientists. Thanks to widespread public protest the government was forced into a U-turn in 2011 on its policy of selling off 85% of England’s forests, but major threats still hang over the Commission’s work, with hundreds of jobs being lost. Other workplaces in England and Wales dealing with environmental issues include the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board, Ordnance Survey, National Trust, Royal Botanic Gardens and Countryside Council for Wales.

In Scotland, Prospect has members in the Scottish Research Establishments, Scottish Natural Heritage, Scottish Agricultural College, Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh and National Trust for Scotland.