Today’s (11 January 2018) announcement sees the culmination of an environmental week for the UK Government with visible signs of a green awakening with promises of a clampdown on plastic waste, an extension of the 5p plastic bag charge to include smaller shops in England & even the Environment Minister – Michael Gove carrying a re-usable coffee cup.
Part of this renewed interest in the environment is based on the political pressure to do more for the environment after the Tory think-tank Bright Blue identified the environment as a key issue for young voters, who failed to back the party in large numbers at the 2017 general election. Additionally, the environment is featuring in the Brexit process and will need to be secured for our future relationship with the EU.
The 25-year Environment Plan identifies the following areas:
- Using and managing land sustainably
- Recovering nature and enhancing the beauty of landscapes
- Connecting people with the environment to improve health and wellbeing
- Increasing resource efficiency and reducing pollution and waste
- Securing clean, healthy, productive and biologically diverse seas and oceans
- Protecting and improving our global environment
In terms of putting the Plan into practice, there is an outline of the process given in the final section (page 128 – 151) covering the setting of a long-term direction with flexibility to adapt to new evidence and circumstances including measuring progress towards the goals, the use of better evidence for better decision-making & refreshing the 25 Year Environment Plan every five years.
Additionally, reporting on progress, governance and accountability have been integrated especially with progress reporting and ensuring an independent oversight and accountability.
Further discussion is made of supporting strong local leadership and delivery together with funding, financing and incentivising improvement in natural capital by continuing public investment, catalysing private investment and working across society to secure lasting change.
Initial reaction to the publication of the 25-year Environment Plan today has highlighted the following issues:
Labour has said the proposals are a “cynical attempt at re-branding the Tories’ image”, while Green Party Co-leader Caroline Lucas said that the plan would need to be backed up by an Environment Act with timetables and legislative weight as reported by edie.
Already some of the Environment Plan has come in for criticism over the plans for achieving zero avoidable plastic waste by the end of 2042 with no specific plans for how this can be achieved in a report by BBC News
Only time will tell on whether the UK Government can deliver on its promises.
For now, it is important to recognise this moment as a key milestone for the protection and development of our shared environment & that will involve all of us in achieving the outcomes.
A copy of the document: A Green Future: Our 25 Year Plan to Improve the Environment and its Annexes can be freely downloaded from the links below: