Farming News - Government's vision for a greener future launched

Government's vision for a greener future launched

11 Jan 2018
Frontdesk

A pledge to eliminate avoidable waste, introduce new safeguards for wildlife and connect more children with nature are among the ambitious plans for a greener future outlined by Prime Minister Theresa May and Environment Secretary Michael Gove today.

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In a major speech today, the Prime Minister has launched the government’s landmark 25 Year Environment Plan, setting out how we will improve the environment over a generation by creating richer habitats for wildlife, improving air and water quality and curbing the scourge of plastic in the world’s oceans.

“A Green Future: Our 25 Year Plan to Improve the Environment” sets out how over the next quarter of a century the government will include: 

 

  • Crackdown on plastics by eliminating all avoidable plastic waste through extending the 5p plastic bag charge to small retailers, removing consumer single use plastics from the government estate, supporting the water industry to significantly increase water fountains and working with retailers on introducing plastic-free supermarket aisles

 

  • Help wildlife thrive by creating 500,000 hectares of new habitat for endangered species, supporting farmers to turn fields into meadows and other habitats, replenishing depleted soils and providing £5.7 million to kick-start a new Northern Forest

 

  • Be a world leader in environmental protection by investigating the feasibility of an anti-poaching taskforce to tackle the illegal wildlife trade, committing overseas aid to help developing nations combat plastic waste, and extending the UK’s network of marine protected area.

 

  • Deliver a Green Brexit by consulting on a new environmental watchdog to hold government to account for environmental standards, and setting out a new approach to agriculture and fisheries management

 

  • Seek to embed a ‘net environmental gain’ principle so development delivers environmental improvements locally and nationally, enabling housing development without increasing overall burdens on developers

 

  • Connect people with nature by creating ‘nature friendly schools’ and reviewing National Parks to see how they can improve and whether the network should be extended.

Environment Secretary Michael Gove said:

“Respecting nature’s intrinsic value and making sure we are wise stewards of our natural world is critical if we are to leave the environment in a better state than we inherited it.

“Our Environment Plan sets out how over the next 25 years we will radically reduce the waste that is choking oceans and rivers, cleanse our air of toxic pollutants and create new habitats for our most precious wildlife to thrive.

“Through this plan we will build on our reputation as a global leader in environmental protection, creating an environment everyone can enjoy and helping the next generation flourish.”

In a world-first, the 25 Year Environment Plan also sets out how we will use a natural capital approach to help us see the additional benefits – whether that is improved health and wellbeing, or national prosperity – in every part our environment, helping improve and direct decision making, and guiding new development.

The Plan sits alongside existing work. A Call for Evidence on reward and returns schemes for drinks containers, including plastic bottles, has closed. Its findings are now being assessed by the Working Group, who will make recommendations to ministers this Spring. As announced in the Budget, the Government will also launch a further Call for Evidence shortly on how changes to the tax system or charges on single-use plastics can play a role in reducing waste.

The plan sits alongside the Government’s Clean Growth Strategy, which sets out how the UK is leading the world in cutting carbon emissions to combat climate change and driving economic growth. Among the first industry to respond was the CLA whose Director of Policy Christopher Price said:

“Farmers and landowners across the country will play a crucial role in delivering on this vision set out by the Prime Minister. The plan reflects not only the significant amount these businesses already contribute but also helps us all to understand how much more we can achieve in the future.

“The plan acknowledges the range of ‘public goods’ that are delivered across our countryside. It is farmers and landowners that deliver these ‘goods’ from investing in improving soil quality, to reducing flooding risks to homes and businesses and managing woodland. The Government is showing that it is listening to us and the direction of travel set out holds significant potential.  

“There is however much more work to be done to make these plans more specific and signal where the hard choices will be made. Much of what is proposed will require significant investment from a range of sources consistently delivered over decades.

“It also requires us to create market opportunities, whether that be to reward land use that captures carbon, manages water or provides offsets for the environmental impacts of development. This will be a big part of making this successful and sustainable.

“We need much greater clarity than this plan provides on the role of the local planning system. If we are to deliver on our environmental ambitions as a nation we have to rethink much of how we live and work. This requires innovation in house building, infrastructure provision and upgrading of business facilities, especially within farming, and that means promoting significant new development. Too often the impulse in the planning system is to interpret environmental responsibilities as a need to slow or hold back development, whereas it is by encouraging and harnessing growth that we are more likely to succeed.”

The Soil Association said:

“The 25 Year Environment Plan addresses important areas – including the vital need to restore soil health, reduce pesticide use, deliver the highest levels of animal welfare and restore farmland biodiversity – but we need to see further detail on the practical measures that will turn these aspirations into reality in the near future.

“ A fundamental shift in farming systems is required as part of that: agroecological systems, such as organic, exemplify many of the agricultural practices described in the Plan and we urge Government to recognise this by harnessing the full potential of these systems in the forthcoming command paper on the Agriculture Bill.