Tomorrow is an important day for the environment.  The Prime Minister will be launching the Government’s 25 year plan for the environment.  Regular readers of this blog will be aware that this has been a long time coming, its gestation stemming from the Conservative 2015 election manifesto commitment to produce a plan to restore biodiversity in 25 years.  I have written about it on several occasions - Oct 2015, Apr 2016, Dec 2016, Sep 2017 and Jan 2018.

In the second of these blogs, written before the vote to leave the EU, I set out a dream of what nature could look like in 25 years’ time.  I am still an optimist and I hope that the plan is and ambitious and effective both for nature’s sake and for the next generation including my own children and, potentially, their kids too.

So what are the key things that hope Theresa May will announce tomorrow to help deliver my dream?  Here are some of the key points that we will be looking for in the plan:

  • A compelling ambition for nature’s recovery, putting the environment at the heart of how we manage our land and sea.
  • Clear, measurable, stretching targets for species, habitats and protected sites including 5 year milestones to help keep progress on track.
  • An independent monitoring body and the ability for parliament and the public to hold the Government to account to ensure that the plan is delivered.
  • Robust programmes to deliver species recovery and the restoration/recreation of priority habitats.
  • New sources of financing for nature conservation and ensuring that public funding supports the delivery of public goods.
  • Effective mechanisms for improving both access and connection to nature.
  • Encouragement and support for local partnerships to catalyse local delivery.
  • Action to meet our international environmental responsibilities and the adoption of a leadership role in this area.
  • Although it will be a plan for England, we need to see a commitment to develop a shared framework for environmental conservation across the four parts of the UK to ensure high standards are delivered, because nature does not recognise national boundaries.

I have been impressed by the passion and energy that Michael Gove has brought to the production of this plan and his work as Secretary of State but for the plan to have lasting effect we believe that clear targets and accountability measures should be incorporated into a new Environment Act. 

I will report back on how we think the published plan delivers against our tests.

  • The announcement of the northern community forest is a good start - if it follows what has gone before, it should be far more than just a lot of trees - integrated land use hitting a range of first order priorities the Government really do have to tackle from health & wellbeing to flood management. This is how we can achieve the scale essential to restoring biodiversity - it'll never happen in the old sector by sector, single purpose, way.

  • I'm glad you remain an optimist, Martin.  It must be very hard for you at times.

    Keeping everything crossed that it will be a good plan and that they (and every subsequent Government) will stick to it.