Letter: We need action, not warm words

Stephen Hardy

CPRE Sussex Trustee

George Close, Robertsbridge

The Campaign to Protect Rural England is pleased to see at last the Government’s commitment to improving the environment shown in the 25-year plan launched last week, but we need actions, not simply warm words to ensure the Government provides the means to ensure we use resources wisely, from plastics to land.

We need better commitments than ‘working towards our ambition of zero avoidable waste by 2050’.

What does ‘working towards’ mean? What is ‘zero avoidable waste’? What good is a target set 32 years ahead, which we are still working towards?

The introduction of a 25-year plan should be an amazing commitment to long term investment in the health, protection and enhancement of our countryside, taking the environment out of the hurly burly of party politics.

We are delighted to see the Government wanting to take measures to improve landscapes especially here with our precious High Weald Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

The plan promises to embed an environmental net gain principle for any development, including housing and infrastructure.

The stated ambition is that local authorities will develop locally-led strategies, and planning authorities will target environmental enhancements that are needed most in their areas and give flexibility to developers in delivering them.

This is all very laudable but are these again just warm words when set against the harsh realities of the real world?

Local authorities already struggle to force developers to deliver on their planning obligations, development control is often too weak to ensure that those green and blue assets that do come forward are of good quality.

So with a planning and enforcement system so weak, the pressures for new homes and infrastructure so strong, how can we have any confidence that environmental net gain will be delivered and if it is, how will it be managed when

local authorities are so desperately underfunded?