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  • by Trevor Loveday

Government advisor claims infrastructure commission is failing on natural capital

The government’s advisor on the nation’s natural assets has criticised its infrastructure counterpart as having “failed once again in its recent advice to consider the degradation of natural capital.”

in its latest annual report, the National Capital Committee (NCC) has called on the National Infrastructure Commission “urgently” to “give due regard to the role that ecosystem services play in the proper functioning of infrastructure.”

Elsewhere in the report it said: “There is a case to be made for incorporating all aspects of environmental protection at a national level within one body. This would entail substantial changes to the existing bodies.”

In his foreword, NCC chair, Dieter Helm (pictured), condemned the government’s efforts over the nine years since it declared in its 25-year Environment Plan (25YEP) White Paper its objective to be the first generation to improve the environment.

“The absence of progress since 2011 is more notable than the successes,” Helm wrote. Pointing to findings in the NCC annual report Helm said: “Broadly the natural environment is deteriorating.”

Among its findings the report noted that in 2017 abstraction from 28% of groundwater and 18% of surface water exceeded sustainable levels. And i

t declared the limitation of the Office for Environmental Protection to public bodies “leaves a gaping hole in legal enforcement.” It calls for the office’ scope to be expanded to cover private companies and landowners.

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