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Tuesday, 4 August

25 Year Environment Plan - Sets Bar, Hits Bar

The Wildlife Trust
21 May 2019

The Government has reported progress on its landmark 25 Year Environment Plan - but The Wildlife Trusts says it has failed to make significant progress in all 10 of its goals.

What is the first progress report was published in the week ending May 17. It says in the first year alone, 90% of the plan’s actions have been delivered or are being progressed.

Launched in January 2018, the 25 Year Environment Plan sets out how government 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.

Over the last 12 months, the Conservative led administration has cracked down on plastic waste by setting out plans to ban plastic straws, cotton buds and stirrers and extend the 5p plastic bag charge. It has also set about overhauling the waste system with a Resources and Waste Strategy.

The Government has also committed to plans for the first Environment Bill in 20 years. An Agriculture Bill has also been laid before Parliament to introduce a more sustainable system of environmental land management.

A Northern Forest has been kick-started and a Tree Champion appointed. A review has been launched to strengthen and enhance England’s National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

Environment Minister Thérèse Coffey said: Through our landmark 25 Year Environment Plan and upcoming Environment Bill, we are committed to bold action on tackling plastic waste, reforming farming, protecting our landscapes and boosting wildlife. While progress is encouraging, we know there is still more to do.

"The first progress report comes during the Year of Green Action, a year-long drive to get more people from all backgrounds involved in projects to improve the natural world.


Indicator framework

The Government has also published a new indicator framework for the 25 Year Environment Plan, becoming one of the first countries to establish such a comprehensive indicator list from which to monitor environmental progress.

It comes as Environment Secretary Michael Gove explores introducing a new citizen science project to build a broader understanding of the state of the environment. He has written to the Natural Capital Committee to ask for advice on how the public could volunteer to be involved but in principle, people would go out and record their local environment, from logging individual plants and animals to noting changes across whole landscapes, so that the data can be used to help shape future policy.

In addition to involving citizens directly, plans are underway to examine how new technologies could be used to identify gaps in environmental protection. Techniques such as satellite monitoring could show what crops are being grown and where habitats need protecting. Social media data could also be used to understand how people are interacting with their environment.


The Wildlife Trusts

Joan Edwards, Director of Policy at The Wildlife Trusts, told ThisWeekinFM: “While we welcome the publication of this progress report, we feel that Defra has failed to make significant progress in all 10 goals. Specifically, we have failed to meet Good Environmental status in our seas. The Agriculture and Fisheries Bills have stalled in parliament with no date for their return. This means we are missing the opportunity to help the 75% of our land that is farmed do more to help nature recover – and at sea the publication of the UK Marine Strategy has demonstrated that we are only meeting 4 out of 15 targets to achieve cleaner, healthier marine ecosystems.

“The Government confirmed that they are making biodiversity net gain mandatory for small scale development – this is an approach to development that aims to leave the natural environment in a measurably better state than beforehand – but unfortunately it does not apply to large infrastructure projects such as HS2 and new roads."


Park life

Edwards continued: "The review of National Parks is interesting but it is not making any difference to the appalling lack of wild landscapes within them. To make a bad situation even worse, the England Peat Strategy is delayed - until this is in place, peat habitats will continue to be lost or degraded and this fabulous carbon storage habitat will continue to fail to help prevent flooding and halt climate change as much as it could.


Wilder future

“To achieve the Government’s laudable aim of being the first generation to leave the environment in a better state, we need a strong Environment Act that commits to securing nature’s recovery and to establish a Nature Recovery Network which will enable us to plan a wilder future.”


To view the new indicator framework for the 25 Year Environment Plan - Click Here

To go to the Year Of Green Action website - Click Here

To view the 25 Year Environment Plan - Click Here


Picture: The Government has set a series of environmental goals. The Wildlife Trusts believes those goals are not being stuck away.

Article written by Brian Shillibeer | Published 21 May 2019


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