Maria Eagle pledges a new climate change adaptation programme

Labour sets out stall on natural environment

Earlier this month the Labour party set out some of its plans for the natural environment if it comes to power following May’s election.

In a speech at the RSPB the Shadow Environment Secretary, Maria Eagle MP, made a commitment to build on the Lawton and Pitt reviews to develop a new climate change adaptation programme in order to ensure greater resilience while at the same time enhancing the natural environment. Eagle also referred to the work of the Natural Capital Committee, and pledged to develop a 25 year plan for the recovery of nature with five year milestones to monitor progress.

In recognition of the need to improve environmental access to maximise health and wellbeing benefits, Eagle made a commitment to retain the nation’s forests in public ownership and create new woodland close to where people live.

She said, 'Labour will ensure that a coherent and resilient ecological network is created over time in line with the Lawton Review's recommendations.  The economic and social case for these reforms is overwhelming…But crucially, woodland has to be located near towns and cities.  That’s because of the strong correlation between the quality of the natural environment where people live and their health and wellbeing.'

Perhaps most significantly, in light of the current Government’s recent decision to archive green infrastructure guidance – an action criticised by the Landscape Institute – Eagle highlighted the need to provide local authorities with the tools necessary to prevent environmental problems occurring in the first place, through the development of new guidance to protect and improve nature.

While all of these proposals are to be welcomed, this last point will be critical in ensuring that the protection and enhancement of the natural environment is central to the ways in which all landscapes are planned, designed and managed.

Further details of the speech can be found on the RSPB’s website.

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