LI President Merrick Denton-Thompson was ‘thrilled’ to see many of the Institute’s recommendations reflected in the governments’s 25 Year Environment Plan, which was formally launched on 11 January
On Thursday 11 January, in a speech at the London Wetland Centre, Barnes, Prime Minister Theresa May and Environment Secretary Michael Gove launched the government’s 25 Year Environment Plan. The strategy details how the government will achieve its long-term aims of restoring and safeguarding wildlife habitats, improving air and water quality, and curbing plastic waste.
Last September, the LI responded to Defra’s consultation questionnaire for the Plan. LI President Merrick Denton-Thompson, who was invited to attend the launch, said he was ‘thrilled to note the alignment of LI policy with the government’s agenda’.
‘[The Prime Minister] laid the foundation for a cultural shift in society,’ Merrick said, ‘in terms of both our individual behaviour, and in behaviour across the public, private and voluntary sectors. I cannot tell you how pleased we should be that so many of the points in our submission to Defra are in the final Plan.’
Also in attendance were ministers, delegates from the Forestry Commission and Country Land and Business Association, and Chair of the Natural Capital Committee Dieter Helm.
Among the commitments in the 25 Year Environment Plan are:
- to establish in 2018 of a cross-government global resource initiative to work with businesses, NGOs, producer countries and intermediary countries to identify actions across supply chains that will improve the sustainability of products and reduce deforestation
- to consult on plans to set up an independent ‘environmental watchdog’ that will hold the government to account for upholding environmental standards
- to restore as well as safeguard nature – something the BBC’s Environment Analyst Roger Harrabin
- to invest of £10 million in the development of external environments in schools, bringing children closer to nature
- to create and improve green infrastructure, encouraging investment through a national framework of green infrastructure standards
- to embed an ‘environmental net gain’ principle for development, including housing and infrastructure
- to improve soil health – a case Merrick strongly made in person to the Environment Secretary last September – and invest £10 million in peatland restoration
- to identify opportunities for environmental enhancement in England’s 159 National Character Areas
Only some aspects of the Plan will apply to the UK as a whole. The Plan clarifies that in matters of devolved environmental policy, the Scottish Government, Welsh Government and Northern Ireland Executive will be responsible for implementing policies and programmes. The UK Government, however, ‘will work with the devolved administrations as we leave the EU to uphold environmental standards and go further to protect our shared natural heritage … [and] continue to work … on areas where common frameworks will need to be retained in the future’.
Merrick continued: ‘This plan signs the government up, corporately, to direct action, driving the transformation of the environment through a mixture of regulation and incentives. In her speech, the Prime Minister made special mention of landscape. I believe that landscape professionals – our members – really are the people with the skills and knowledge to take the lead on delivering the ambitions the government has set out.’