11 January 2018
The Prime Minister’s commitments on the environment and the UK Government’s long awaited 25 Year Environment Plan - launched today - have been welcomed by a coalition of 31 organisations represented by Wildlife and Countryside Link. The plan covers England and the UK’s international environmental commitments. The environment and animal welfare organisations support the scope of the plan and the UK Government’s ambition to restore nature in a generation.
Particularly welcome are Government moves to establish a new watchdog to monitor environmental outcomes, to give the environment a voice and uphold environmental standards as we leave the EU. This should be given real teeth, to rival those of the EU’s Commission and the Courts. The charities are also encouraged by the emphasis the Government will place on science and evidence to inform the Plan, and its recognition that the environment benefits both people’s health and wellbeing and the economy.
The coalition is pleased the UK Government has listened to its calls and responded with promises on:
But the coalition has warned that delivering the UK Government’s ambition of restoring nature, the environment and landscapes over the next 25 years, will require law on the page, cash in the coffers, and a watchdog with teeth.
Karen Ellis, Acting Director of Science & Policy at WWF-UK said: ‘We all depend on nature, from the UK and overseas, and letting it decline is causing misery due to ill-health, flooding and pollution. A weakened environment also costs the UK millions of pounds. The UK Government’s new 25 Year Environment Plan could be a game-changer, reversing long term declines and making the UK an exemplar for the rest of the world to follow. To achieve that, the Plan will need to be underpinned by strong laws and regulations, and a clear action plan for achieving the goals it sets out.’
Dr Richard Benwell, Head of Government Affairs at Wildfowl and Wetland Trust said: ‘Brexit has cast doubt over the future of the laws, courts and cash that protect nature. Take the wrong path and the UK’s environment faces irreparable damage. But the 25 year plan is a big green signpost that Government intends to take nature’s way to a greener future. We’ll be watching the first steps closely. Before Brexit we need a strong UK environment regulator and green trade guarantees. Early in this Parliament, we need a powerful new Environment Act to set the plan in law and make sure that future governments stay on track to improve our air, water and wildlife.’
Dr Elaine King, Director of Wildlife and Countryside Link, said: ‘The public is deeply worried about the rapid degradation of our environment and is relying on the Government to take urgent action before it is too late. The 25 Year Plan makes for good reading, but words must be backed up with a decisive and well-resourced road map for delivery that includes clear milestones, evidence-based decision-making and transparent processes for monitoring and reporting on progress. If the UK is to lead the world in protecting the environment and get the environment back on track, it must now enshrine its goals and targets into law.’
Please find further detailed comments from members of the coalition here.
The scale of the environmental challenge is huge:
The coalition said that the UK Government could meet the challenge if the 25 Year Plan is backed up with decisive action and funding. The first test of the 25 Year Plan will be the Agriculture Bill that is expected in the next few months. This should contain clear targets for investing in natural assets like soils and freshwater, aligned with the goals set out in the 25 Year Plan, and the public funding mechanisms to deliver them.
The charities are urging the UK Government to:
The coalition is encouraging the Government to align other new legislation with the goals set out in the Plan, such as the forthcoming Agriculture and Fisheries Bills, and policies such as the Clean Growth Plan and Industrial strategy, to ensure they contribute to the successful delivery of the Environment Plan.
Notes to editors
For more information and for interviews, please contact Emma Adler at Wildlife and Countryside Link on 020 7820 8600
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