Co-Chair: Matt Williams, National Trust
Co-Chair: Karen Ellis, WWF-UK
Head of Policy and Campaigns: Dan Pescod, Link
Link’s 25 Year Plan group continues to lead the sector’s joint action to ensure that the 25 Year Environment Plan’s ambitions are realised.
Reintroduction and translocation of species
After attending a Defra workshop in the summer of 2018 on the reintroduction and translocation of species, Link submitted a response to Defra draft guidelines for a reintroductions and translocations code, as identified in the 25 Year Plan.
The Group has met with Defra officials to discuss ‘conservation covenants’ - another aspect of the Government’s 25 Year Environment Plan. Covenants are a voluntary agreement between a landowner and a “responsible” body, such as a conservation charity, to provide lasting conservation benefit for the public good. In March Link submitted a response to the Government’s formal consultation on covenants. We see the potential of such a system, and the Group’s, response sets out the right safeguards to be effective.
Biodiversity net gain
Late last year, members of the 25 Year Plan Group, along with members of Link’s Land Use Planning Group, met Defra officials to discuss the issue of “net biodiversity gain”, ahead of the consultation on this important matter which was subsequently published in December. (See the ‘Land Use Planning” section for more). We responded to the consultation in February 2019, and have had met officials from Defra and MHCLG in March and May to discuss how the system could be made effective in practice. Our key lines on this important matter can be found here. We will continue to advocate actively on this matter to help ensure that the forthcoming environment bill and future policy require a net gain system that will work and really help nature to recover.
Review of protected landscapes
The Group has responded to the Government’s call for evidence to inform its review of England's National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONBs). We underlined that National Parks and AONBs have a key role to play in delivering the ambition and commitments set out in the 25 Year Environment Plan, and urged that greater priority be given to the conservation and enhancement of the wildlife, cultural heritage and natural beauty of these areas. We also called for better planning rules, enhanced car-free access and strengthened duties on public bodies to protect and enhance these priceless national treasures. The review’s findings are due later in 2019.
Environment bill and the 25 Year Plan
The second part of the Environment Bill, which we hope to see tabled in Autumn 2019, is expected to include targets for nature’s recovery and environmental improvement, supporting at least some aspects of the 25 Year Environment Plan. (The first part of the Bill, in draft form, was published in December and covers environmental principles such as “the polluter pays” and the setting up of a “green watchdog,” the “Office for Environmental Protection”. In view of this, December 2018 saw the Group organise a sector-wide workshop to look in some detail at existing environmental targets, with a view to ensuring we maximise our collective knowledge in order to advocate effectively for the best possible environment bill. The 25 Year Plan Group is continuing this work, drafting briefings on a range of environmental targets.
Between the autumn of 2018 and spring of 2019, Defra consulted informally and formally on a set of “indicators” for the Plan. These will be a set of measurements to show how the environment in England and the UK overseas territories is faring. Many Link members provided their comments on the draft indicators, and we understand the completed indicators will be published in the spring alongside the first Government annual report on 25 Year Environment Plan progress.
For further information, contact Dan Pescod, Link’s Head of Policy and Advocacy.
Last updated: 31 July 2019
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Membership of Wildlife and Countryside Link is open to national and international voluntary or other non-profit organisations based in England. Member organisations must be able to demonstrate an interest in furthering the work of Link, and their aims must include the protection of wildlife, landscape and the quiet enjoyment and appreciation of the countryside. Individual members of the public are not eligible to join Link, but may be interested in joining one of Link's member organisations.