Commenting on the Environment Secretary's speech to green groups this morning, Craig Bennett, Chief Executive of The Wildlife Trusts, says:
"In his speech today, the Secretary of State recognised the scale of the challenge we face – the UK is one of the most nature depleted countries in the world. We want to work together to turn this around, but, following the Prime Minister’s recent attempt to blame the lack of house building on ‘newt counting’ when there is very little evidence to support this, the Government needs to rebuild trust with the environment sector.
"If the Government is serious about leaving the environment in a better state for the next generation, it must act now. This must start with proper investment in nature’s recovery. Spending £27bn on destructive road building projects, when just £40m has been earmarked for nature conservation projects, will only further damage our threatened wildlife.
"The Government must also deliver the laws needed to secure nature’s recovery. We’re pleased that the Secretary of State is committed to the return of the Environment Bill in September and is at last planning the appointment of a Chair for their new environmental watchdog, the Office for Environmental Protection. The Government first recognised the need for a new environmental watchdog almost three years ago, yet in that time the Environment Bill needed to deliver this has barely passed the first hurdle in Parliament.
It is time the Government unleashed Project Speed for Nature – turbo charging proper investment in nature, including nature based solutions to climate change, passing an Environment Bill with a strong, independent watchdog to hold the government to account, and committing to an ambitious Highly Protected Marine Areas delivery plan within a year."