UK Environmental Improvement Plan – New Ideas or Another Serving of Leftovers?
The UK government has unveiled a major green agenda to ensure every home in England lies within a 15-minute walk of a lush green space or body of water.
The plan also contains a species survival fund to aid endangered creatures like hedgehogs. As part of the long-awaited measures, 1.2 million acres of wildlife habitat will be restored, and 400 miles of river will be restored. A new species survival fund will target some of the most endangered wildlife, including hedgehogs and red squirrels, by creating or expanding 25 national nature reserves and 7,400 acres of new woodland along England’s rivers.
160 wastewater treatment works will be upgraded by 2027 to combat sewage spills. A plan will be detailed later in the year to deal with pollution, new housing developments, and climate change pressures on the water system.
Starting November 2023, every government department will be required to consider how new policies and legislation will affect the environment and climate. Local governments can ensure access can be granted in perpetuity by registering land as a town or village green and creating new public access.
In addition, new schemes to reduce ammonia emissions from farming, a significant contributor to air pollution, will put into action commitments made years ago. Information on air pollution will be better communicated to the public, and new waste reduction targets will be set. Building regulations will be reviewed to prevent toilet leaks and poorly functioning dual flush buttons from being installed in new developments and home renovations.
While these are admirable goals, critics say they are nothing but a rehash of existing laws packaged neatly together by a government facing falling support from constituents. Existing laws could, if enforced, provide the environmental protection already promised.
Still, the fact that this topic is even on the agenda speaks volumes about the mindset of people in the country and that they recognize the need for more protection of the environment locally and globally.