Responding to the Prime Minister’s speech today setting out the UK’s post-coronavirus recovery plan, Matthew Germain, Partner and head of the environment group at Osborne Clarke in Bristol, says:
“It was very underwhelming from a ‘green’ angle. Apart from some high-level comments about boosting afforestation schemes, the was no sense that the recovery would be underpinned and harnessed by a focus on decarbonisation and net zero models, for example there was no mention of the massive investment needed in energy efficiency.
“In terms of the infrastructure announcements, while positive, the unmentioned elephant in the room is how these will be balanced by climate challenges such as those we saw with Heathrow. I don’t think the government has worked that out yet. Let’s hope in general there’s more detail coming about the ‘green recovery.’
“Understandably and rightly Covid-19 has taken priority – however on the environment generally, there is a feeling that the government has gone quiet on some key issues and programmes.
“These include the Environment Bill – currently stalled in Parliament due to Covid-19 – and the massive potential that legislation has to help transform UK environment law so that it’s fit to operate in a world with a climate and ecological emergency; its 25-year environment plan, where we have seen very little action or follow-up; and achieving environmental equivalence with the EU in terms of the Brexit trade negotiations.”