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homeWednesday 12th December 2018

Environment strategy short on EH interventions

Stuat Spear11/01/2018 - 18:06

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Strategy contains plans to stem flooding
Strategy contains plans to stem flooding

Environmental health issues have been kicked down the road in today’s long awaited 25-year-plan on the environment with underwhelming references to air quality and noise.

With the headline focus of the strategy being the laudable elimination of all avoidable plastic over the next 25 years the CIEH has expressed disappointment that two key environmental health issues appear to have been side stepped.

The strategy makes no mention of the legal challenges that the government faces to its existing air quality strategy with Defra being forced to return to court for a third time.

The government says that it plans to publish another air quality strategy later this year for consultation setting out how it plans to seek improvement in public health. It will include approaches to improving how farmers use fertilisers and the use of solid fuel burners in the home.

‘We are seriously underwhelmed by this document,’ says Tony Lewis CIEH head of policy. ‘It’s stronger on reducing plastic waste and on the environment and supporting the natural environment but it makes only two references to noise nuisance and it is similarly sparse in relation to air quality.

‘We now await the government’s promised revised air quality strategy which has now been promised for later in the year.’

The environmental law group ClientEarth has also expressed concern that the new strategy appears to lack any teeth with the expression of worthy intent but no laws to back them up.

‘The government has repeatedly said the UK will be more ambitious and lead on the environment once we leave the EU,’ said ClientEarth director of programmes Karla Hill.

‘They need to prove that they really mean it and make policies and targets legally binding, or risk the future of the UK’s environment. We need proper protection for our air, rivers, nature and wildlife, not more empty promises.’

When it comes to noise pollution there is a mention of noise being absorbed by a ‘green infrastructure’ and a vague reference to managing noise and light pollution over the next 25 years.  

The strategy does talk of embedding a ‘net environmental gain’ principle for housing and infrastructure development as part of placing the environment at the heart of planning.

The plan says that biodiversity net gains should be achieved where possible and that ‘we will explore strengthening this requirement for planning authorities to ensure environmental net gains across their areas and will consult on making this mandatory.’

The strategy also highlights reducing risk from flooding and coastal erosions by expanding the use of natural flood management solutions and putting in place more sustainable drainage systems.

The strategy also talks of ways to connect people with the environment to improve health and wellbeing by using green spaces including through mental health services and greening towns and cities by creating a green infrastructure and planting one million urban trees.  

 

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