Today saw the Prime Minister, Theresa May, launch the long-awaited Defra 25-year environmental plan. The plan forms the culmination of over 2 years of close work and consultation with environmental bodies, including the National Association for Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (NAAONB).
NAAONB Chairman, Philip Hygate, said
“The National Association for AONBs welcomes the 25 -year plan and sees it as an opportunity for AONB Partnerships and Conservation Boards to work even more collaboratively with Government to conserve and enhance our outstanding landscapes.
Using their powers to convene, AONB Partnerships and Conservation Boards have long engaged with and supported anyone who cares about our landscapes.
We recognise that maintaining vibrant, healthy and diverse local communities is essential to the future of AONBs and we will continue to work to improve the connection between people and nature. Part of this work is recognising that, as dynamic, living landscapes, AONBs are important for the UK’s economy, so we will strengthen our relationships with landowners, farmers and other businesses to ensure a robust and sustainable local economy after Brexit.
We are confident that Management Plans, consulted on locally, and produced by the AONB Partnerships/Conservation Boards, provide the tools and opportunities to deliver the Government’s plans.
We believe that, together, we can achieve the Secretary of State’s ambition to halt the deterioration of our environment and restore and enhance the UK’s outstanding natural beauty.”
Colette Beckham, Cornwall AONB Partnership Manager said,
"The plan has only been released this morning and we're still going through and digesting its implications. The renewed commitment to our Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty is incredibly positive and we are very impressed by the comprehensive and ambitious plan the Defra have set out today to tackle some of the biggest challenges faced by society. I know I speak for the other 45 AONB teams across the country when I say we're chomping at the bit to help deliver it"
The main points from Theresa May's speech launching the 25 Year Plan this morning include..
- Government will incorporate all existing environmental EU regulations into our statute: "Let me be clear, Brexit will not mean a lowering of environmental standards"
- Government commits to lead the globe in environmental leadership, meet UK climate targets & "protect and renew our natural inheritance for the next generation"
- A call on everyone to play a part and respond to the impulse to care and nurture our surroundings
- "Being close to nature is good for our wellbeing"
- A wish to reconnect people, especially children, with nature and a new £10M investment in nature friendly schools
- Net environmental gain will be embedded in development plans - including housing and infrastructure
- The UK will host international zero-emission vehicle summit, as part of drive to tackle air pollution
- There will be a change to rewarding farmers and landowners for what they do to deliver 'public goods', - managing soils & preserving its productive capacity; planting trees; cleaning & storing water
- A major new drive around trees and tree planting
- A significant commitment to reducing plastic use and marine plastics
All of the Plan's ambitious goals are directly relevant to protected landscapes. However, The Cornwall AONB Partnership is also particularly encouraged to see a real and renewed commitment by government to National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty with a clear goal to "enhance beauty, heritage and engagement with the natural environment".
Chapter 2 of the Plan in entirely focused on recovering nature and enhancing the beauty of our landscapes. One of the key actions to achieving these goals is a full 21st century review of National Parks and AONBs which will "consider coverage of designations, how designated areas deliver their responsibilities, how designated areas are financed, and whether there is scope for expansion. It will also consider opportunities to enhance the environment in existing designations, and expand on the existing eight-point plan for National Parks to connect more people with the natural environment."