Deputy Prime Minister announces £1.5m of funding for Kew Gardens

Funding: Kew Gardens will receive £1.5m from the Government, Nick Clegg announced

Funding: Kew Gardens will receive £1.5m from the Government, Nick Clegg announced

First published in News This Is Local London: Photograph of the Author by , Chief Reporter

Kew Gardens will remain one of the world’s most important botanical research and education facilities after £1.5m of funding was secured by the Deputy Prime Minister.

Nick Clegg announced on Wednesday, September 3, the Government will continue their current level of funding for the Unesco World Heritage site until at least April 2015.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) previously announced it would cut £1.5m of funding to Kew Gardens, which, combined with other financial pressures, would have left a £5m hole in its budget.

Managers at the Royal Botanic Garden, which receives about two million visitors each year, said the hole in the budget could not be filled without losing a sixth of their staff, mostly in scientific areas.

The funding announced this week, which is at the same level as it was for 2013/14, will allow world-renowned scientific research to continue along with preserving Kew Gardens status.

Speaking at the State of Nature conference organised by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, Mr Clegg said securing the funding is a "significant step towards protecting the future of our environment".

Earlier this year, more than 100,000 people signed a petition to save jobs at Kew Gardens and protestors took part in a rally at Parliament in July to oppose the funding cuts.

Zac Goldsmith, MP for Richmond Park and North Kingston, supported a parliamentary motion on the funding cuts and said Mr Clegg’s announcement was "hugely welcome".

He said: "I’m absolutely delighted that Nick Clegg has climbed down, but we must continue the pressure to ensure Kew’s funding extends far beyond 2015.

"As well as being an extraordinary local asset, it is impossible to exaggerate the importance of Kew Gardens to the UK’s and worlds scientific community.

"I don’t believe it would have been able to maintain its valuable work with those level of cuts so I am thrilled by this announcement and grateful to the many tens of thousands of people who wrote to their MPs and pressured the Government."

Liberal Democrat parliamentary candidate Robin Meltzer said the news was a "step in the right direction" for the long-term funding of Kew Gardens.

He said: "For us, it is a source of enormous pride to have the botanical gardens in our area and I am thrilled that the request by thousands of people around the world to restore proper funding to Kew Gardens has been successful."

Richard Deverell, director at Kew Gardens, said: "This funding will go some way to assist us in achieving the transition to a sustainable future for Kew.

"However, it will not fully resolve the original £5m gap we identified in our budget for 2014/15 that we have been managing.

"We are committed to continuing to grow our self-generated income and managing our cost base so that we can put Kew on a firm financial footing and ensure that our science and education programmes will continue to make an impact in the areas where they are needed most."

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