Robert Ashcroft
29 March 2018

IES submits evidence on 25 Year Environment Plan to MPs

Smart, evidence-based targets will be essential to realising the Plan’s ambition

At the beginning of 2018, the Government announced it's long-awaited 25-Year Environment Plan. Soon after publication, our Policy Officer gave his initial reaction to the plan, applauding the ambition of its vision, but noting the large amount of work to be done to plan for implementation and delivery.

On 1st February, the House of Commons Environment Audit Committee (EAC) launched an inquiry into the plan. The IES has submitted written evidence to this inquiry, taking into account member input, outlining key recommendations for the Government as they move to implement and add detail to the plan.

Our submission's key points included:

  • The IES welcomes the publication of the 25-Year Environment Plan as a plan for the whole Government. Its admirable principles must now be embedded across government as attention turns to implementation.
  • Smart, evidence-based targets will be essential to realising the Plan’s ambition but are currently sparse. These should be developed as soon as possible and should be subject to scientific scrutiny over time through monitoring, evaluation and adaptive learning.
  • The overall objectives of the Plan are welcome, but there is not yet sufficient detail on delivery mechanisms, and there are notable gaps in the Plan, including on skills, air quality, and governance.
  • The Plan currently lacks legislative underpinning. In the context of the UK leaving the EU, establishing a statutory framework through which governments can be held accountable on environmental matters is important, and should be in place before exit day. An independent, sufficiently resourced body with access to the appropriate expertise and enforcement mechanisms is required.
  • Environmental principles which currently apply in the UK through the EU treaties should be fully transposed in the EU (Withdrawal) Bill.
  • The Government’s proposals on environmental net gain are welcome in principle, but the detail of this policy is very important; a one-size-fits-all approach would be inappropriate and damaging. Judgements about any proposed trade-offs and substitutions must be made in the context of public engagement and consultation, as well as a thorough scientific understanding of consequences, particularly where these may be irreversible.
  • As the Plan rightly recognises, we cannot plan with precision or confidence 25 years into the future. Support for basic and applied environmental science research is essential to support adaptive management and learning.

For further details, read our full submission (pdf)