Commenting on Theresa May’s speech on the environment and the publication of the 25 Year Plan today, Stephanie Hilborne OBE, Chief Executive of The Wildlife Trusts, says:
“The PM’s speech shows that, at last, a Government is seeing how much the environment means to people, not least young people. There are fantastic words and ambitions for land and sea that raise the spirits – but the lack of legal underpinning is a fundamental flaw. What is the point of gently urging the horticulture sector to phase out the use of peat, when for decades it has been plundering the beautiful moors and mosses of the UK and now of Eastern Europe? What hope can we draw from a promise to return wildlife to our land when there could be a change of mood in a few weeks, or months’, time? We are now asking for an Environment Act in the next Queen’s Speech (or the next session of Parliament) or all this is simply the Government saying what the voluntary sector has been saying for a long time. It needs to act.
“It’s good to hear that this new plan is, in theory, meant to work across Government departments. In practice though, there is no commitment from the Ministry of Housing that planning permissions will be granted only if there is high quality green infrastructure included, or from the Department of Health to implement green prescribing across the nation. A Nature Recovery Network is certainly essential but it must be in law, and work across urban and rural areas.
“Unless more Government leadership is shown, our wildlife will continue to decline and with it our mental health as even more people become isolated from the benefits of day to day contact with nature.”