What’s on the horizon for UK environmental policy for the next 25 years?

Written on 11 Jan 2018

Today the Prime Minister Theresa May announced the government’s much anticipated 25 Year Environment Plan. The publication of the Plan comes in the same week as the government’s microbead ban tackling plastics pollution.

Some of the key aspects of the Plan include:

  • achieving zero avoidable plastic waste by 2042;
  • curbing emissions from combustion plants and generators – which comes only a few days after the government’s implementation plan to phase out coal-generation in the UK;
  • ensuring that proposed cleaner growth is complimentary to the recently published Industrial Strategy;
  • adopting natural capital as an approach to environmental policy-making;
  • promoting reuse, remanufacturing and recycling to ensure that resources are kept in use for longer – specifically targeting plastics;
  • eliminating all avoidable waste by 2050;
  • reducing pollution by tackling air pollution in a proposed new Clean Air Strategy;
  • embedding an ‘environmental net gain’ principle for development, including housing and infrastructure;
  • consulting on plans to set up a world-leading environmental watchdog;
  • delivering a ‘Green Brexit’ by seizing the change to reform agricultural and fisheries management;
  • reviewing National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AoNBs) for the 21st century; and
  • committing to publishing a new Resources and Waste strategy in 2018, aimed at making the UK a world leader in resource efficiency;

Initial comments from industry are that the government’s plans sound promising but will need to be backed up by strong legislation and adequate funding in order to make any real difference. Concerns have also been raised over the risk of environmental protections being weakened by watering down green standards in exchange for rapid post-Brexit trade deals.