Today’s Government response to the Natural Capital Committee’s (NCC) third report sets out its plans to take forward advice on how to safeguard England’s natural capital. This includes elements of the natural environment that provide valuable goods and services to people, such as clean air, clean water, food and recreation.
The NCC report recommended that Government should develop a 25-year plan to meet the Government’s commitment to protect and improve the environment within a generation. It also set out key investments in natural capital that would deliver significant value for money and generate large economic returns, for example, investing in urban greenspaces benefits millions of people and offers significant potential for improvements in physical and mental health, and increased woodland planting.
Emma Marrington, Senior Rural Policy Campaigner, said: “We welcome the Government response to the NCC report and its commitment to develop a 25-year plan for a ‘healthy natural economy’, which is vital for future investment in England’s natural capital. We particularly agree that the plan should help give more people the opportunity to use, enjoy and engage with the natural environment, as well as focus policies on delivering better environmental outcomes.
“CPRE believes that the importance of England’s diverse landscape character should be recognised in the plan, as the backdrop to the unique natural capital of each distinct place. Natural England has recently developed 159 National Character Area profiles which capture the characteristics of what makes an area special, along with opportunities to improve that particular environment. We suggest that this would be a useful resource to plan and monitor improvements to the natural environment as part of the 25-year plan. It could also be an opportune time for Government to commit to the next Countryside Survey, which could form the benchmark for future monitoring of natural capital assets such as biological diversity, carbon capture in soils and climate change impacts on the countryside.
“With increasing pressure for housing, transport and other infrastructure, it is more important than ever that we appreciate our natural capital and recognise the enormous contribution that distinctive, beautiful, characterful and cared for landscapes make to the nation. We look forward to working with Government and the future Natural Capital Committee to help secure an improved future for our natural environment.”