‘If this is a roadmap, it’s a roadmap to the cliff edge. This Conservative government promised the most ambitious environmental plan of any country on earth. Instead, here’s yet more paperwork containing a threadbare patchwork of policies that fail to tackle many of the real threats to our natural world. This won’t do.
‘Ministers want to crack down on dual flush toilets while letting water firms pump tonnes of raw sewage into our rivers and seas. Until we see immediate action this Parliament to ban industrial fishing in all our marine protected areas, reduce industrial meat and dairy farming and ramp up protections across a bigger network of national parks and areas of outstanding natural beauty, we’re in real danger of UK nature going into freefall.
‘This is a real emergency. Churning out a litany of long-term targets with weak but headline-grabbing policies and hoping the voting public won’t notice the big holes at the centre of the plan just won’t cut it. With these issues at a critical point and so many people worrying about it, the Sunak government have no more time to waste or they’ll feel the result of their failure keenly come the next general election.’
DR DOUG PARR
Greenpeace UK’s policy director
New environmental commitments
Other new commitments set out today include the following.
A multi-million pound Species Survival Fund will protect our rarest species – from hedgehogs to red squirrels.
New schemes will help 65-80% of landowners and farmers to adopt nature-friendly farming practices on at least 10-15% of their land by 2030. Landowners and farmers will also be supported to create or restore 30,000 miles of hedgerows a year by 2037 and 45,000 miles of hedgerows a year by 2050.
Action on water efficiency in new developments and retrofits will include a review of building regulations and other legislation to address leaky loos and confusing dual flush buttons, and to enable new water-efficient technologies
400 miles of river will be restored through the first round of Landscape Recovery projects and 3,000 hectares of new woodlands will e established along England’s rivers.
A more efficient system will better enable joined-up working to achieve catchment-level outcomes.
Councils will be challenged to improve air quality faster through performance assessments and the use of existing powers, alongside clear guidance, funding and tools.
It will be made easier for people to do the right thing to minimise their waste, and a new set of interim targets for 2028 will reduce different types of waste, including plastic, glass, metal, paper, and food.
The plan sets out a clear framework to ensure progress can be clearly tracked.
The environmental principles policy statement will also be published today. It means that, from 1 November 2023, environmental protection and enhancement will be embedded into the design and development of new policy across government.
‘We are facing into a series of environmental challenges that are very serious, pressing and which are connected to one another. If we are to take effective action then we will need an ambitious and integrated plan that is geared up to meeting some very challenging targets. That plan and those targets are now live.
‘The package is broad and most welcome and important. It will now require efforts across government and across society to translate its intent into action.
‘This can be done, so long as priority is attached to it and we remain focused on joined-up delivery. Success will not only bring benefits for our depleted natural environment, but also for jobs, food and water security, health and investment.’
Natural England chair