Today (Tuesday 18 May 2021) the Environment Secretary set out plans to restore nature and “build back greener” after the pandemic. The Secretary of State, George Eustice, made the speech at an online event hosted by The Wildlife Trusts during which the public could ask questions.
Much focus was given to plans for tree planting, species reintroduction and peatland restoration in England, including a ban on peat sales subject to a public consultation. While it is widely acknowledged that there is a big opportunity for a ‘green recovery’ from Covid19, The Wildlife Trusts fear that there is a real danger of ‘building back’ just as before – for example by investing in damaging new road building and destructive developments such as HS2 rail and Sizewell C nuclear power station, rather than investing in nature on land and at sea on the scale that is urgently needed.
Harry Barton, CEO Devon Wildlife Trust says:
“It’s great to hear the Secretary of State’s announcement today. The promise of legally binding targets for halting species decline – something wildlife organisations have desperately sought for years – is particularly welcome. But we need much more. Protecting 5% of peatland and increasing our woodland cover by 2% is a good start, but nowhere near ambitious enough. And the funding being promised is tiny compared to the huge resources being unveiled for new roads, house building and high speed rail links, all of which threaten our existing wildlife. This is a steady step forward, and one I’m very pleased to see. But it is a long way from the green revolution we need to tackle the ecological and climate emergencies we face.”