25-year Environment Plan: Green business reaction

The Government has set out how it intends to enhance the UK's environment by creating richer habitats for wildlife, improving air and water quality and "curbing the scourge of plastic" in the world's oceans. But how have members of the green community reacted?

25-year Environment Plan: Green business reaction…

Nick Molho, executive director, Aldersgate Group:

“Today, the Government rightly highlighted the economic, social and health benefits of investing in the natural environment. By setting out long-term goals to improve our environment and committing to introducing reliable metrics to monitor progress, this plan provides much needed clarity on the direction of the UK’s environmental policy as it leaves the EU.

“Businesses will be at the heart of delivering the UK’s environmental goals and the Plan’s focus on significantly improving the resource efficiency of the economy and setting up a green business council is strongly welcomed.”

Shaun Spiers, executive director, Green Alliance:

“This was a landmark speech, the first prime ministerial speech on the environment for 17 years. There was much to welcome, particularly Theresa May’s determination to be a world leader in protecting the environment, the commitment to set up a strong new environmental watchdog and the promise of action on plastics pollution.  

Inevitably, questions remain. While the ambition and sense of direction of the 25 Year Environment Plan launched today are admirable, it is less clear how all its good intentions will be put into effect.

That makes it all the more essential that the government introduces a new Environment Act to underpin its ambitions. We hope to see a commitment to a new Act in the near future.”

Matthew Farrow, executive director, EIC:

“Prime Ministerial speeches on the environment are an endangered species, so it is very welcome to hear Theresa May emphasise the crucial importance of the environment, the number of green jobs, the interdependence of economic growth and environmental progress, and the scourge of plastic waste. The pledge to show international leadership and to ensure Brexit does not lower green standards is already government policy but valuable to hear the PM say it herself. 

“But saying the right thing and taking down a few straw men will only take us so far.  Most environmental challenges are hugely complex and require sustained, creative policy development and follow up with business over many years to improve to really improve environmental trends.  The commitments on single-use plastic and plastic waste are good and could provide political leadership for a waste and resources industry that has seen little of it for several years.”

Karen Ellis, acting director science & policy, WWF-UK:

“We all depend on nature, from the UK and overseas, and letting it decline is causing misery due to ill-health, flooding and pollution. A weakened environment also costs the UK millions of pounds. 

“The UK Government’s new 25-year Environment Plan could be a game-changer, reversing long term declines and making the UK an exemplar for the rest of the world to follow. To achieve that, the Plan will need to be underpinned by strong laws and regulations, and a clear action plan for achieving the goals it sets out.”

Mary Creagh, chair, Environment Audit Committee:

“The EU has played a vital role in protecting our environment. My Committee has said that the environmental protection should not be weakened as a result of leaving the EU. We need a new Environmental Protection Act to ensure that targets on waste, water quality and air pollution aren’t dropped or missed, legal protections are not weakened and Government departments aren’t let off the hook. We don’t want to go back to being the ‘dirty man of Europe’. 

“On coffee cups and plastics bottles, my Committee has called for the producers of polluting packaging to pay more, and for the taxpayer to pay less. The “polluter pays” principle is a crucial part of European Union law. The Government should introduce an Environmental Protection Bill to put it, and other key environmental principles, into UK law after leaving the EU.”

Dr Colin Church, chief executive, CIWM:

“This 25-year Plan builds on the vision for waste and resources that began to take shape in the Clean Growth Strategy and Industrial Strategy White Paper last Autumn. And while it may be light on detail about delivery, what we are seeing is a step change in the government’s approach to waste and resource policy and CIWM welcomes the range of proposals and commitments set out in the Plan,”

“What the waste and resources sector now needs is more detail on how these ambitions and proposals will be translated into action through the Resource & Waste Strategy and CIWM looks forward to working with the government as it develops it thinking.”

Jacob Hayler, executive director, Environmental Services Association (ESA):

“The 25 Year Environment Plan provides some much-needed encouragement to our industry that the Government is finally taking seriously both the challenges and opportunities in managing the UK’s resources. We welcome the ambitions to double resource efficiency and eliminate avoidable waste by 2050. This will require the concerted effort of the whole supply chain along with policy makers, and the waste and recycling industry is ready to play its part.”

“In particular, we are pleased that the Government has listened to our calls to reform the PRN system. However, many of the measures it outlines are too focused on consumers. A truly circular economy will only come about when there is a strong demand for recycled materials. If the Government wants to do more than tinker at the edges of recycling policy, it must act decisively to promote UK markets for recycled materials.”

Dr Richard Benwell, head of government affairs, WWT:

“It’s fantastic that the Government has published its long-term plan to improve nature for the next generation. This is a great green signpost to a UK rich in nature. Now we need a new Environment Act with cross-party support to make sure that all Departments from Treasury to Transport follow DEFRA’s lead and the Government sticks to a greener path.”

Dr Nina Skorupska CBE, chief executive, REA:

“We welcome the Government’s ambitions laid out here today and believe that the UK’s compostable plastics industry can help the Prime Minister address many of the urgent issues raised in this Plan. There are numerous products that are manufactured in the UK, ranging from coffee cups to carrier bags, that can reduce the non-biodegradable materials polluting our oceans and our countryside.

“Anaerobic digestion and composting can support Government ambitions in relation to soil health by encouraging the cultivation of break crops and the production of digestate and compost, which acts as an organic alternative to fossil fuel derived fertilisers and soil improver to restore organic matter in soil.

“One outstanding question is how does Government intend to support local authorities’ waste collection abilities and develop our domestic waste infrastructure? Recycling rates are in decline and food waste collections stalled following years of funding cuts.

Charlotte Morton, chief executive, Anaerobic Digestion & Bioresources Association (ADBA):

“The health of the UK’s soils is critical to allowing us to grow the food we need to feed our families. Defra’s aim to restore soil sustainability in England is an important step in the right direction, and the AD industry can play a key role in this through producing natural, low-emission biofertiliser in the form of digestate, which is high in vital nutrients such as nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium.

“The government now needs to provide meaningful incentives for farmers to buy and use biofertilisers that help to restore soils and reduce emissions from agriculture. Providing support for AD plants, which produce these digestate-derived biofertilisers, is therefore essential.”

Leonie Cooper, chair, London Assembly Environment Committee:

“The release of the Government’s plastic strategy is welcome. But we really need action now. At current rates, in 25 years’ time, people in the UK would have used 192.5 billion plastic bottles!”

“Londoners consume more plastic bottled water per person than anywhere else in England, we have some of the worst recycling rates in the UK and plastic bottles make up 10 per cent of all litter found in the Thames.”

Richard Black, director, Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit (ECIU):

“Climate science is pretty clear now that to keep global warming well below 2 Celsius, the goal of the Paris Agreement, governments are going to have to do much more than ending coal burning and building out clean energy.

“We’re going to need some form of ‘negative emissions’ – measures that draw carbon dioxide from the air. And doing this naturally, through things such as restoring soil, restoring peat and planting trees, is by far the easiest option, as well as providing lots of other benefits.”

Susanne Baker, head of environment and compliance, techUK:

“Technology has a huge role to play in helping to achieve the aims of the 25 Year Environment Plan, with the opportunity for “Green Tech” to make both significant economic as well as environmental contributions. Over the coming months we will initiate a report exploring exactly how technologies can help deliver the aims of the 25 Year Environment Plan and the Clean Growth Strategy.

“Specifically on waste and resources, there is a welcome focus on the role of Producer Responsibility Systems and the better utilisation of resources from waste, an area of policy which the tech sector has been positively engaged with now for over a decade. We applaud the ambition to publish a new UK Waste and Resources Strategy in 2018 and we look forward to contributing to DEFRA’s work on the Strategy.

Craig Bennett, chief executive, Friends of the Earth: 

“A long-term vison for protecting our environment is essential, but the Government can’t keep turning a blind eye to the urgent action needed now to protect our health and planet from toxic air and climate-wrecking pollution. 

“It’s time to stop tinkering at the margins and get to the heart of the problems – especially the nation’s fossil fuels addiction. Ministers must pull the plug on coal, gas and oil, end its support for fracking and develop the UK’s huge renewable power potential.”

Sumen Rannie, Commercial Director – SodaStream UK:

“Theresa May has bottled it. Her government has ignored the giant elephant in the room, which takes form in the shape of the 35 million disposable plastic bottles which are sold in the UK every single day. Where are the proven-to-work deposit schemes? Where’s the pressure on bottled water and soft drinks giants to promote an alternative to throw-away plastic?

“Yes, we commend the £7bn investment in research and development, but overall, this 25-year plan is too little and far too late. We cannot afford to wait a quarter of a century to see any real difference in the way we buy and dispose of plastic. The government could focus on an immediate consumer education campaign, which demonstrates the simple alternatives and preventative solutions that Britons can choose every day, such as choosing reusable drinks bottles and multi-use coffee cups.”

Chris Fry, director, Ramboll:

“One crucial question we have to ask is whether the plan is fit for the future? We need to view the environment in a new way, as value creating for businesses and communities alike. For this plan to be successful and make a real difference, not only now but past 2042, it needs work effectively with the Clean Growth Strategy and Industrial Strategy Initiatives. It’s a missed opportunity for the UK if we don’t capitalise on accelerating technology and innovation. In clean technology this includes marine renewables, circular economy technology and smart cities.

“Implementation pathways will be crucial to success. The nitty gritty details of who, how and what are incredibly important in government strategy and now need to be carefully considered.” 

edie staff

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