Many of you have expressed concerns about the protection of our environment once we leave the European Union. The Covid-19 pandemic has given us a renewed appreciation of our environment and the green spaces around us, I for one am very grateful for the many green spaces we have in Castle Point. I therefore want to reassure you that once we have left the EU we will be free to chart a new course tackle the environmental challenges we face and indeed enhance our protection of it.
That is why the Government has recently announced several new measures to protect our environment:
Covid-19 has contributed to the widespread, serious and rising problem of mental ill health. Green prescribing works by systematically connecting people with opportunities to engage with nature and the outdoors to improve their physical and mental health. Starting this autumn, the Government will be investing a further £4m in a two year pilot to bring green prescribing to four urban and rural areas that have been hit the hardest by Covid-19. Local teams involving NHS England, Public Heath England and Natural England will work together to prioritise communities and social groups who have been worst hit by the covid-19 pandemic.
Local Nature Recovery Strategies
Local Nature Recovery Strategies are one of the new flagship measures in the Environment Bill. They will combine local knowledge with expert information and advice to plan for more coordinated, practical and focused action to support nature recovery and the Nature Recovery Network across the country. Over £1m will be invested this year in 5 Local Nature Recovery Strategy areas – Buckinghamshire, Greater Manchester, Northumberland, Cumbria, and Cornwall – to prepare for future implementation nationwide
A Long Term Approach
The Government is committed to restarting the Environment Bill as soon as possible in the Autumn. Meanwhile they will shortly be publishing a paper that sets out their approach to setting long-term targets on biodiversity, waste, water, and air quality through the Environment Bill, so they are established by October 2022. An appointment campaign for the first Chair of the Office for Environmental Protection will also be launched shortly so they will be in place to lead the new Public Body in 2021.
Environmental regulation and planning
Later this autumn the Government will be launching a new consultation (England-only) on changing its approach to environmental assessment and mitigation in the planning system. A new £5 million pilot on establishing a new Natural Capital and Ecosystem Assessment has also been announced.
These are just some of the many actions this Government is taking to protect our environment in the future and please be assured that, even as we leave the EU, the Government is committed in its vision to leave the environment in a better state than we found it.