The 25 year environment plan is published today and demonstrates how - when a Minister is committed and you have bright civil servants - you can capture an enormous topic and many of the key issues and challenges in one place. Some impressive general ambitions are expressed very eloquently in the plan and it makes the important connection between the environment and human health.
But environmentalists have not gained a reputation for being cynical for no reason. The reality is that, with a few notable exceptions, short term needs have almost always trumped the needs of future generations: politics works in short term cycles. History has taught us that nothing good will happen for nature or the environment without primary legislation that has full cross-party support. This was as true for the Marine Act 2009 as for the Climate Change Act 2008. Making primary legislation that holds future governments to account is absolutely essential.