The UK Government has said it will “make ours the first generation to leave the natural environment in a better state than we found it.”
In January 2020 the Government reintroduced an Environment Bill for England, to replace the EU’s nature laws and “green watchdog” role, and to help nature to recover.
Wildlife and Countryside Link is campaigning for a strong Environment Act to match the scale of the threat nature faces.
Why we need a new Environment Act
Our planet is in big trouble. The United Nations has recently reported a massive decline in nature, with one out of eight million species threatened, and said we have just twelve years left to prevent catastrophic climate change.
The UK is among the most nature-depleted countries on earth. For example:
• Between 1970 and 2013, 41% of UK species declined
• Of the 218 countries assessed for ‘biodiversity intactness’, the UK is ranked 189
• Of the 7,615 species found in England that have been assessed using the IUCN Regional Red List criteria, and for which sufficient data were available, 971 (13%) are currently threatened with extinction from Great Britain (England-specific assessments are not available).
The Environment Bill; is it good enough to help nature recover?
The Environment Bill currently before Parliament is a significant step forward in our battle for long-term environmental laws to reverse nature’s ongoing decline.
However, in its current form the Bill would leave us with a weaker environmental watchdog than we had as an EU Member State. We welcome the Bill’s obligation on Government to set and meet legally-binding targets for air, water, waste and wildlife; but such targets must be set with strong independent advice, and we need legally-binding interim targets so that action is taken now; not left till the distant future.
The repeated delays to the Environments Bill - from March to November 2020 and now from January 2021 - are also a cause of deep concern.
Over the next few months Link will continue efforts to improve the Bill, including enshrining a landmark State of Nature target within it, to ensure that bold words on recovering nature by 2030 on an international stage are matched by meaningful deeds at home. The Bill is the Government’s chance to blaze a legislative trail for others to follow in this vital COP year –the Bill must return bigger and better than before.
A full set of briefings on the Bill, produced by Link with Greener UK, can be found here. A selection of Link policy papers connected to the Bill can be accessed below.
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.