Advisor warns government plan for environment is "not on course"

The Natural Capital Committee has delivered a scathing interim response to the government’s latest 25 Year Environment Plan Progress Report, cautioning that “The government is not on course to achieve its objective to improve the environment within a generation. The next generation will, as a consequence, inherit a poorer set of natural assets.”

The NCC, chaired by Professor Dieter Helm (pictured), said the 2020 Progress Report had repeated many of the mistakes of the 2019 report, which were previously criticised by the Committee. Crucially, it said the government has still not put in place the appropriate metrics and baseline required to measure changes in the environment.

Helm said in his foreword: “As the Committee has previously advised, it is crucial to use the right framework and metrics or risk multiple policy failures including the success of the 25 YEP, all future Environmental Improvement Plans, the delivery of Environmental Land Management schemes and environmental net gain. A green recovery will not be possible unless the government understands the baseline position of the environment . From the ad hoc evidence presented in the Progress Report, not only is there little evidence of progress, but some worrying evidence of declines.”

NCC reiterated its recommendations that the 25 YEP should be put on a meaningful statutory footing, including statutory interim and long term targets to ensure the objectives are met. It said as a matter of urgency, the government should commit to establishing a comprehensive natural capital baseline against which progress can be measured.

The Committee went on to highlight the opportunity to realise the significant economic benefits from investing in natural capital assets and delivering the 25 YEP in a more cost-effective way as part of a resilient green recovery from Covid 19.

The NCC will publish its final response to the 25 YEP Progress Report in October 2020.