January 11, 2018

Scientists react as Government launches Environment plan

The Government has today launched its 25 Year Environment Plan, pledging to improve the natural environment by 2042.

Many headlines have been made by the pledge to eradicate avoidable plastic waste, but the plan also considers sustainable land management, nature enhancement and reducing pollution, among other things.

Leading environmental scientists at the University of Reading have reacted to the government’s plan.

Professor Simon Potts, Director of the Centre for Agri-Environmental Research, University of Reading, said:

“The government’s pledge to “make this the first generation to leave the environment in a better state than we found it” is laudable. But as the full report shows, this is a huge task, of which cleaning up plastic waste is just one pledge.

“Plastic pollution is a visible and disturbing reminder of our wasteful ways. But people need to understand that many impacts we can’t see or touch are having an even bigger impact on the environment. Reversing these impacts will not be easy. Nature provide people with benefits that underpin our economy and society. But some farming practices and types of development are destroying valuable natural resources, including many iconic British landscapes, habitats and species.

“The government now needs to protect the environment with more hard, evidence-based policies, or our efforts to defend nature will be as flimsy as a carrier bag in the wind.”

Professor Simon Potts is a leading expert in UK biodiversity and has advised Defra on policies to protect bees and pollinators, as well as authoring reports for the United Nations and European Commission.

Professor Chris Collins, Professor of Environmental Chemistry at the University of Reading, said:

“The Government’s plan contains some great aspirations, but we need some firm commitment to get them delivered. Soil is vital to the environment, so it is good to see 57 mentions of it and its importance within the plan.

“The only tangible commitment on soil from the Government is that Defra will invest at least £200,000 to help develop soil health metrics and test them on farms across the country. This won’t go very far, and I am not convinced it is even the best approach.”

Professor Chris Collins has advised DEFRA on soil security policies. He also heads up the NERC’s Soil Security Programme, which is aligned to the Global Food Security programme and provides evidence for protecting the ecosystem services provided by soil.

Article source/image credit: University of Reading