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CIEEM response to 25-Year Environment Plan

CIEEM response to 25-Year Environment Plan

11 Jan 2018

The UK government has today published its 25-Year Environment Plan. CIEEM applauds the Secretary of State, Michael Gove, for the ambition of the Plan and its long-term vision. There are many aspects of the Plan that CIEEM believes, if properly funded and implemented, could make a real difference to halting the current rate of environmental degradation and help build a healthier, more resilient environment for future generations.

We are particularly pleased with the continued aspiration for a Green Brexit, for the UK to demonstrate global leadership, the intention to fully recognise and utilise the societal benefits of a healthy natural environment, the inclusion of the environmental net gain approach for development, reiterating the commitment to a consultation on a new environmental scrutiny body, the desire to reconnect people and nature, and the UK government’s willingness to work collaboratively – especially with the devolved administrations which is paramount.

This latter point will be critical to delivery of the Plan. The natural environment and the challenges that it faces do not recognise national borders and it is vital that the government works with the devolved administrations and others – including the UK’s Overseas Territories and the Republic of Ireland and other EU member states – to achieve its admirable ambitions. It is currently unclear how much of the government’s vision is shared with devolved administrations, who have been more ambitious in environmental protection in recent years and have considerable expertise to share.

CIEEM is delighted to see that the government is building on our biodiversity net gain principles, which we are now developing, with our partners, into guidance for industry. However we would like to see commitment from government to expand these further into a landscape-scale approach which includes agriculture.

We are also happy to see reference to the importance of evidence and science in decision-making, especially with regards to natural capital accounting. The intention to implement a new land management scheme that uses “public money for public good” and that implements the polluter pays principle is laudable. This will need to be set out in legislation and we look forward to the forthcoming Command Paper and Agriculture Bill. Support for technical advice to farmers is also very welcome.

CIEEM President, Dr Stephanie Wray, says: “The Plan rightly sets out the importance of the natural environment to people and the economy, and the huge challenges facing the natural environment. These challenges also unfortunately highlight some of the shortcomings of the Plan, which is an ambitious vision but uses weak, non-committal language and lacks detail on immediate action.”

The Plan sets out a “blueprint” but no legally-binding targets, and where there are targets they are too far into the future. Action needs to start now, during this Parliament, and we want to see what this Government is proposing to deliver by 2022. Also, if the ambitions of the Plan are to be realised there will need to be strong legislation underpinning it, such as the new Environment Act that CIEEM has been lobbying for. Government should aim to deliver the Act in this Parliament

The Plan does not set out how delivery of the government’s ambitions will be funded and resourced, and how all departments across government will play their part in delivering it. There are some small funds allocated to distinct projects but enhancement of the environment needs much more robust and secure funding and resources.

CIEEM and its members have a wealth of practitioner expertise and experience. Environmental practitioners working to high professional standards will be critical to the successful delivery of this agenda and we look forward to working closely with all UK governments on its delivery, sooner rather than later.

Read the 25-Year Environment Plan

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