Wildlife Trust’s initial response to the 25 Year Environment Plan

Estelle Bailey, the Chief Executive of the Berks, Bucks & Oxon Wildlife Trust, broadly welcomes the Government’s 25 Year Environment Plan announced yesterday, while warning that the lack of legal underpinning is a fundamental flaw.

The Government’s Plan includes developing a Nature Recovery Network, providing 500,000 hectares across the UK of additional wildlife habitats, especially wildflower meadows, grasslands and heathlands, which could be linked to urban areas through green infrastructure networks.

Estelle Bailey commented: “BBOWT is already creating more Living Landscape areas in our three counties, where we are linking existing nature reserves with other protected sites as well as urban green and blue infrastructure. We must ensure that we include the areas where most people live. Access to nature and inspiring wildlife experiences should be a normal feature of everyday life, especially in towns and cities.

“The Berks, Bucks & Oxon Wildlife Trust would like to have seen how the Government will develop the Nature Recovery Plans and how they can be implemented locally in partnership with local authorities, house builders and landowners to maximise the benefits for healthy society and healthy economy.

“We welcome the commitment to the principle that new development should result in net environmental gain, especially as there is so much house building going on in our three counties. We would like to see a commitment from the Ministry of Housing that planning permissions will be granted only if protected areas are avoided and if high quality green infrastructure is included.

“The Wildlife Trusts’ new blueprint for nature-friendly housing shows how this can be done. The challenge now is implementing this through the planning system, working with local authorities and house builders to integrate wildlife into all new housing developments. Government has a critical role to enable this.

“The Plan includes support for the initiatives such as reconnecting children with their natural environment, and enabling natural therapies for people with mental health issues, which our Wildlife Trust is already doing.”