Last Updated: 12 January 2018
Created: 12 January 2018
The Government’s pledge to eliminate avoidable waste, improve safeguards for wildlife and connect more children to nature has received the support of North Swindon MP, Justin Tomlinson.
On Thursday, the Prime Minister Theresa May unveiled the Government’s 25 year plan to improve the environment. The plan aims to improve the environment over a generation through a combination of creating richer habitats for wildlife, improving air and water quality and curbing the scourge of plastic in the world’s oceans.
Tackling the issue of plastic pollution is at the centre of the plan, with the Government pledging to eliminate all avoidable plastic waste by the end of 2042.
Plans to achieve this include extending the 5p plastic carrier bag charge (which has already seen 9 billion fewer plastic bags being used), encouraging supermarkets to introduce plastic free aisles, exploring charging on all single-use items, injecting funding into plastics innovation, and helping developing nations tackle pollution and reduce waste, including though UK Aid.
Ministers hope the 25 Year Plan will make the UK a world leader in environmental protection. Its global focus of the plans will see the Government investigating the feasibility of an anti-poaching taskforce to tackle the illegal wildlife trade, committing overseas aid to help developing countries combat plastic waste, and extending the UK’s network of marine protected areas.
The Government is also keen to get children more engaged with wildlife, and has made £10m available for school visits and a Nature Friendly Schools programme. This will help to create school grounds which allow young people to learn more about the natural world, with an emphasis on schools in disadvantaged areas first.
The plan also seeks to embed a ‘net environmental gain’ principle so development delivers environmental improvements locally and nationally, enabling housing development without increasing overall burdens on developers
The Prime Minister said: “I want the Britain of the future to be a truly Global Britain, which is a force for good in the world. Steadfast in upholding our values – not least our fierce commitment to protecting the natural environment.”
Justin Tomlinson MP said: “We have always been a world leader in understanding and protecting the natural world but we recognise the environmental challenges that we face are acute. Many like me will have been captivated by the Blue Planet 2 series which provided a huge wake-up call to the urgency in doing all that we can to protect our oceans and marine life. I am very proud of the work that has been done so far; in particular the 5p bag charge and the ban on microbeads, but there is still more to do to tackle the terrible plastic pollution of our oceans.”
This latest announcement follows work already done by the Government to address important environmental issues, which includes:
- Banning Microbeads which will see manufacturers of cosmetics and personal care products no longer be able to add the tiny pieces of plastic which can cause serious harm to marine life.
- Banning the use of neonicotinoids; a pesticide which was harming bees
- Providing £3.5 billion to support measures to improve air quality, such as investing in electric vehicle infrastructure and new charging technologies, supporting the roll-out of low carbon buses, and expanding cycling and walking infrastructure. In the last Budget £220 million Clean Air Fund was announced, paid for by tax changes to company car tax and vehicle excise duty on new diesel cars.
- Ending the sale of all new conventional petrol and diesel cars and vans by 2040. In July a plan to tackle traffic pollution was published.
- Nearly doubling the maximum litter fines to £150. From April, the new range will be £65-150, with a default of £100. Previously, the range set by central government was between £50-80. We have also ensured that individuals can be fined for litter thrown from their vehicles.
- Examining a Deposit Return Scheme which involves paying a small surcharge when a beverage container is bought. As well as issuing a call for evidence asking individuals and organisations to submit evidence and data on how a Deposit Return Scheme could work. Ministers have asked the Voluntary and Economic Incentives Working Group, set up as part of the Litter Strategy, to accelerate its work and report back early this year.
- Setting out our plans for a new, world leading independent statutory environmental body to hold government to account. This shows that once we leave the European Union we will enhance environmental standards, not dilute them.
- Releasing beavers to the Forest of Dean, to help reduce the risk of flooding and enhance biodiversity. Beavers are to be introduced into a 6.5 hectare secure enclosure in the Forest of Dean in the spring.