THE RSPB have been criticised for “backpedaling” and apologising for calling Rishi Sunak and Michael Gove “liars” for weakening environmental protections.

The conservation charity yesterday vented its “frustration” on X, formerly known as Twitter, at the Prime Minister, Housing Secretary and Environment Secretary Therese Coffey.

The post, which has been viewed over five million times, called out the three Tory ministers for rowing back on environmental protections over UK Government plans to scrap pollution rules to build new homes near areas such as rivers and waterways.

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“You lie, and you lie, and you lie again. And we’ve had enough,” the UK's largest conservation charity wrote, following up with a thread of quotes from all three ministers and manifesto pledges from the Tories.

But, less than 12 hours later the charity rowed back on their comments and said that “frustration led us to attack the people not the policy”.

“This falls below the standard we set ourselves and for that we apologise,” the RSPB wrote.

“We will continue to campaign vigorously on behalf of nature but we will always do so in a polite and considered manner.”

The National:

The apology led many social media users and commentators to hit out in frustration at the row back from the charity.

Writer George Monbiot said: “I'm deeply frustrated by @RSPBEngland's timidity. It *should* attack both the UK's disastrous policies and the authors of those policies.

“It was right to say that Sunak, Gove and Coffey lied. It was wrong to apologise. We need bold, assertive defenders of the natural world.”

Dr Charlotte Lydia Riley added: “People make policies! You can’t attack “policies” in this vague manner and not hold specific people accountable.

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“The campaign was good; this backpedaling is disappointing.”

Mark Avery, co-founder of the group Wild Justice, said: “Oh dear! Obviously you got one of these wrong. Personally, I think it was the retraction.”

Non-profit Protect The Wild wrote: “Real shame to see this. Say it how it is. This Government is full of liars who don’t give a s*** about the environment.”

Conservationist Dr Charlie Gardner added: “If politicians have demonstrably lied, it is entirely appropriate to call them liars “It is ok to 'attack the people not the policy' - leaders should take personal responsibility for the decisions they make, and be held accountable for them.”

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Just Stop Oil said their respect for the RSPB “went up briefly - and then back down”, and called Tory politicians “environmental arsonists”.

Conservative politicians and supporters attacked the charity despite the apology.

Joe Porter, a member of Staffordshire Moorlands District Council, said: “As a Conservative councillor, I've proudly supported many of your campaigns, but your initial actions spoke volumes.

“Politics needs less division and personal attacks, especially given what's happened to two MPs in recent years. As a charity, I hope you will be better in future.”

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Ed McGuinness, a former Tory candidate, complained that the initial post was still up.

He said: “The images were also deliberately designed - therefore premeditated. Pathetic apology.”

The row erupted after ministers confirmed on Tuesday that EU-era rules that force housebuilders to mitigate the impact that new developments have on river health are set to be scrapped as part of plans to build 100,000 new homes in England by 2030.

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The UK Government has argued that the measure would benefit the economy, and that new developments contribute a small amount to nutrient pollution. They also promised extra funding to offset any increase.

The current rules prevent new developments in protected areas where they would add harmful nutrients, such as nitrogen or phosphorus, into nearby waters as they can cause algal blooms that deprive other plants and animals of light and oxygen.

The RSPB were not the only nature charity to criticise the move, with the Wildlife Trust’s chief describing it as “disgraceful”.