The Countryside Alliance welcomes the publication of the Government’s 25 Year Environment Plan which was launched by the Prime Minister, Rt Hon Theresa May MP, at the London Wetland Centre on 11 January.
The Plan is ambitious, both in the number of policy areas it covers, and in attempting to provide a framework for environmental policy over the next quarter of a century. It will provide a useful benchmark for assessing action on the environment by this and future governments although further and more detailed work is required in key policy areas such as agriculture and fishing and this must be a priority for the Government.
The Countryside Alliance fully supports the goals of the Plan, particularly “enhancing beauty, heritage and engagement with the natural environment” and seeing “thriving plants and wildlife”, and we look forward to working with the Government to help achieve these objectives. People are at the heart of delivering policy and it is disappointing that the relationship between rural communities and the natural environment has not been properly addressed in the Plan. The countryside is a place of great beauty and a habitat for wildlife, but it is also a place of work and home to millions of people. Rural communities will be key to delivering much of the Plan and must be fully engaged.
Whilst it is encouraging that the work of farmers in maintaining and improving our natural environment has been recognised in the Plan, it is disappointing that the work of other land managers has been overlooked, particularly people involved in shooting and angling. There are many different types of conservationists and it is vital that the Government creates environmental policy that enables all of them to contribute their expertise and experience. Shooting is involved in the management of two-thirds of the rural land area and shoot providers spend nearly £250 million a year on conservation so it is vital that the interests of shooting are included.
Tim Bonner, Chief Executive, commented: “The Plan is an impressive attempt by the Government to recognise the environmental challenges of our age and we fully support its objectives. However, in attempting to be as comprehensive as possible the Plan lacks detail about how these objectives are going to be delivered and by whom. The Government must work with all of those involved in the management of the countryside otherwise the aspirations for improvement of our natural environment will fail to become a reality. It is vital that delivery involves working with rural communities not imposing solutions on them”.