Helm calls for 25 Year Environment Plan to be enshrined in legislation

Natural Capital Committee (NCC) chairman Dieter Helm has called for the government’s recently published 25 Year Environment Plan to be embedded in legislation.

In his foreword to the NCC’s fifth annual report to the Economic Affairs Committee, Helm said he was delighted the Committee’s six years of work had played a decisive role in the publication of the plan, and to see all of the NCC’s recommendations adopted, except that the plan should be embedded in legislation. Helm commented: “I would like to take this opportunity to reiterate that without legislation, there is a very real danger that the aspirations in the Plan will get diluted.”

The report summarised the Committee’s activities in 2017. These included:

Providing advice to the environment secretary, following a formal request, on the approach to developing and implementing the 25 Year Environment Plan.

Producing guidance on the valuation of natural capital and the ecosystem services it provides and working with HM Treasury and DEFRA to incorporate this into public sector appraisal guidance.

Working with the Office for National Statistics and DEFRA to support the development of national natural capital accounts.

Starting the work to appraise suitable metrics, models, datasets and tools to aid the measurement of natural capital and how it is changing over time.

The reported pointed out: “All such activity is necessary and timely if the loss and degradation of natural capital is to be halted soon. Evidence of the escalating pressures on and degradation of natural capital coincide with a growing appreciation of the significance and irreplaceability of natural capital for society and for the economy.”

The Committee said there was much to be done to develop the proposals in the plan in 2018. “This will need to be done alongside the major opportunity of developing the post CAP framework for agriculture; switching from farm payments on an area basis to public money for public goods, concentrated on the environment.”