The government’s 25 Year Environment Plan has been released after long delays to be labelled “vague” and “disappointing” by Green Party Co-leader Caroline Lucas.
Launching the Plan in January, Prime Minister Theresa May placed a specific emphasis on what she called the “scourge” of plastic waste, announcing a headline target of zero ‘avoidable’ plastic waste by 2042.
Other policies fall under ten general environmental goals such as ‘Clean air’, ‘Clean and plentiful water’ and ‘Mitigating and adapting to climate change’. Measures include the extension of the five pence plastic bag charge to all retailers in England, planting 180,000 hectares of new woodland and doubling the UK’s resource productivity by 2050.
Although Lucas welcomed the announcement of the Plan, she described the issues it covers as the “low-hanging fruits of environmental protection”, and criticised the lack of legislative weight behind most of the goals, saying: “Its contents simply aren’t commensurate with the scale of the crises we face. It is deeply disappointing that the government has failed to put its vague ambitions in concrete legislation.”
She continued: “While these measures will protect nature to some extent, the climate crisis threatens to undermine their success.” Lucas has called for a new Environment Act, a ban on fracking and “a serious commitment to renewables - because a failure to address the scale of the challenge we face would truly be an act of intergenerational betrayal.”
Lucas further warned that “warm words on environmental protection also risk being undermined by the cold reality of Brexit”.
The Prime Minister has promised a ‘Green Brexit’, but with much of the UK’s current environmental policy directed by EU law, and without concrete safeguarding plans in place, concerns have been raised that standards post-Brexit could deteriorate unless concerted action is taken.