Prioritise national infrastructure needs, energy managers urge next UK Government

Two thirds of environmental and sustainability professionals believe national needs must be prioritised over local environment issues for nationally significant infrastructure projects in the UK.

That’s the result of the most recent poll of 646 members of the Institute of Environmental Management & Assessment (IEMA).

Three quarters of respondents say the current planning system is failing to aid the transition to a sustainably economy. A failure of legislation, policies and guidance threatens the protection of the UK’s natural environment during the implementation of necessary infrastructure projects.

A huge majority – 92% – think the Green Investment Bank’s role should be increased to include powers to appropriately borrow and invest in projects that both protect and improve the UK’s natural capital.

Dangerous levels

Eighty-nine percent of respondents also feel that where there are prominent regional concerns, these should be addressed by central Government in addition to regional authorities.

One such issue is the recent spike in air pollution experienced by the South East and eastern England areas last week, where levels reached the most extreme level of warning – ‘very high’ – and residents were warned to reduce physical exertion.

“This poll very markedly shows that there is an opportunity for the incoming Government to take the bold decision needed to kick the UK’s transition to a sustainable economy up a gear,” IEMA’s policy lead on planning and environmental impact, Josh Fothergill, said. “In particular professionals using the Planning system indicate it must play an enhanced role in this transition.”

Pre-election survey

IEMA has conducted four polls in the run up to the General Election. The first revealed the main party leaders are not trusted by sustainability professionals on climate change policy, while the second found that 88% said their own industry was falling short on circular economy efforts.

IEMA’s poll in March showed that 95% of environmental professionals want to see sustainability issues given more prominence in the National Curriculum and other learning frameworks. Eighty-eight percent of respondents wanted it included in the Government-prioritised STEM skills (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths).

Energy management survey at Sustainability Live

edie recently published the third annual exclusive edie report – Energy Management: Procurement, Planning and Purchasing Priorities – which surveyed 381 people responsible for energy management within their organisation

The  2015/16 report will be officially presented at edie’s Sustainability Live 2015 event later this month. A session on Day One of the show (21 April) will see edie editor Luke Nicholls explore the exclusive report’s findings in greater detail, with a closer look at the key challenges, business imperatives and opportunities for energy manages for the coming year. 

Register to attend Sustainability Live 2015 for FREE here.

Lucinda Dann

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