CPRE col­umn

CHRIS DADY, chair­man of the Cam­paign to Pro­tect Ru­ral Eng­land Nor­folk, wel­comes the gov­ern­ment’s lat­est en­vi­ron­ment plan with some caveats

EDP Norfolk - - Inside - cprenor­folk.org.uk

Wel­come for the new 25-year green plan

IT CAN only be good news when the gov­ern­ment sets out pos­i­tive poli­cies to make us ‘the first gen­er­a­tion to leave the nat­u­ral en­vi­ron­ment of Eng­land in a bet­ter state than that in which we found it’. There is much to

wel­come in A Green Fu­ture: Our 25 Year Plan to Im­prove the

En­vi­ron­ment which sets out the gov­ern­ment’s strat­egy for the pro­tec­tion of our en­vi­ron­ment.

The pro­posed ac­tions on plas­tics, her­alded by the wave of con­cern gen­er­ated by the BBC’s Blue Planet 2 rev­e­la­tions on plas­tic waste in the world’s oceans, can­not come soon enough. An em­pha­sis on en­hanc­ing the beau­ti­ful English land­scape, which is such an im­por­tant source of re­fresh­ment and in­spi­ra­tion for peo­ple, will chime with all of us in Nor­folk.

Ac­tions to en­hance na­tional parks, AONBs and the green belt, cre­ate a new North­ern For­est, as well as to re­store na­ture across the wider land­scape, will also bring ben­e­fits to the coun­try­side. This, com­bined with the ac­tions to im­prove peo­ple’s ac­cess to green space and ad­dress cli­mate change, should bring im­prove­ments in the health and well­be­ing of all of us.

There is no doubt this is an am­bi­tious plan. Its suc­cess will de­pend upon how soon those am­bi­tions are con­verted into agreed ac­tions, rather than be­ing a rather won­der­ful wish list.

Some gaps needs to be filled too, es­pe­cially for us in Nor­folk. Many of us ap­pre­ci­ate the tran­quil­lity that can be found in our county. A com­mit­ment to help­ing to main­tain our truly dark skies which now can­not be en­joyed in much of Eng­land is very im­por­tant for us, and needs to be a key ac­tion.

When you travel on our roads and visit places, it is ap­par­ent that we need more than just words to deal with our throw­away cul­ture. A de­posit re­turn sys­tem for cans and bot­tles of all de­scrip­tions needs a com­mit­ment that this vi­sion does not give.

The built en­vi­ron­ment is where we need to do more as well. There is al­ways much use of the word ‘sus­tain­abil­ity’ in plan­ning de­vel­op­ments, but this is al­most a throw­away word that has to be used rather than a con­cept be­hind any scheme.

If we sim­ply go down the route of say­ing that any en­vi­ron­men­tal dam­age caused by devel­op­ment can be off­set, then we have to take great care to know which as­sets are quan­tifi­able and re­place­able, oth­er­wise we will see our en­vi­ron­ment con­tinue to de­te­ri­o­rate.

The first thing we should see is to get land al­ready al­lo­cated for devel­op­ment built on, rather than go­ing through the end­less process of re­quir­ing more green­field sites to be re­leased for build­ing. This process is hap­pen­ing at the mo­ment in Nor­folk, de­spite the fact we have enough land al­lo­cated for 20 years of house­build­ing.

We should make all new houses A+ en­ergy ef­fi­cient. We need to see the com­ing plan­ning frame­work re­view tackle all these is­sues and to be­come a mech­a­nism to put the right houses in the right places.

Wed­ded to the post-Brexit farm sub­sidy sys­tem pro­posed by our En­vi­ron­ment Sec­re­tary to sup­port a new agri­cul­tural sys­tem that sees im­prove­ments to our land­scapes, pro­tec­tion for our wild spa­ces, long term man­age­ment of our soils amongst other pub­lic ben­e­fits, then this 25 year plan is to be wel­comed. It will be judged on how quickly ef­fec­tive mea­sures are in­tro­duced and we must hold our politi­cians to ac­count to en­sure this hap­pens.

“The first thing we should see is to get land al­ready al­lo­cated for devel­op­ment built on”

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