25 year environment plan. A response from the British Ecological Society to the environmental audit committee March 2018.
The British Ecological Society (BES) welcome the long-term vision and scope within the 25 year plan to improve the environment (hereafter referred to as the Plan), which aims to brings together the many elements of the natural environment. This paper presents the response from the British Ecological Society to the Environmental Audit Committee, addressing the following questions: (i) To what extent does the Plan set a sufficiently ambitious agenda across Government? Are there any major gaps?; (ii) What would success or failure look like for the Plan? To what extent will the Government's proposals for reporting on the Plan allow for proper scrutiny of its performance against its objectives? Are the commitments to legislative action in the Plan sufficient to ensure it will endure beyond the current Parliament?; (iii) The Plan sets out a natural capital-led approach and a principle of "environmental net gain" when undertaking development. What are the risks and benefits of adopting these approaches? What steps need to be taken during development and implementation to ensure they lead to positive environmental outcomes, especially in respect of biodiversity?; (iv) To what extent does the Plan set out effective delivery mechanisms to ensure Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), other Government departments and public bodies have the resources and responsibilities to implement it? Where should the Government seek agreement with the Devolved Institutions to ensure a common approach across the UK?; (v) The Government has proposed an independent statutory body to "champion and uphold environmental standards as we leave the European Union". What role, legal basis and powers will it need to ensure the Government fulfils its environmental obligations and responsibilities? How do these compare to the role of the European Institutions in the existing arrangements? What standard would it have to meet to be "world leading"?; (vi) The Plan sets out a series of objectives and the Government says it will consult on a policy statement on environmental principles to underpin policy-making after leaving the European Union. What principles should the Government include as part of that consultation? What legislation might be needed?