Today the Government released its Environmental Improvement Plan, which sets out plans restore nature, improve environmental quality, and increase the prosperity of our country.
A specific part of this plan outlines support for farmers to create or restore 30,000 miles of hedgerows a year by 2037 and 45,000 miles of hedgerows a year by 2050, returning hedgerow lengths in England to 10% above the 1984 peak (360,000 miles).
CPRE, The Countryside Charity, commented:
“Through the support of government schemes 65 to 80% of landowners and farmers will adopt nature friendly farming practices on at least 10 to 15% of their land by 2030. They will also be supported to create or restore 30,000 miles of hedgerows a year by 2037 and 45,000 miles of hedgerows a year by 2050.
“A massive congratulations to Selaine as our leading Hedgerow Hero in parliament! From the beginning of this campaign she has been an amazing advocate for the restoration and planting of hedgerows and it is safe to say we couldn’t have achieved this without all her hard work.”
On the plan’s announcement on hedgerows Selaine Saxby, MP for North Devon said:
“The commitment set out in the Environmental Improvement Plan to 30,000 miles of hedgerows a year by 2037 and 45,000 miles of hedgerows a year by 2050 is much needed and will make a real difference to our countryside.
“As a CPRE Hedgerow Hero I have been working to raise this with ministers and am delighted that it has been included. We know that hedgerows can provide a home for a diversity of native wildlife, and their ability to sequester carbon is equivalent to planting trees and preserving peatlands.
“Farmers recognise the value of hedgerows both to their own commercial activity and to wildlife, so I am delighted that the Government will be supporting them to plant more.”
The plan also outlines how the Government will:
- Create and restore at least 500,000 hectares of new wildlife habitats, starting with 70 new wildlife projects including 25 new or expanded National Nature Reserves and 19 further Nature Recovery Projects
- Launch a multi-million pound Species Survival Fund to protect our rarest species.
- Deliver a clean and plentiful supply of water for people and nature into the future, by tackling leaks, publishing a roadmap to boost household water efficiency, and enabling greater sources of supply
- Challenge councils to improve air quality more quickly and tackle key hotspots.
- Transform the management of 70% of our countryside by incentivising farmers to adopt nature-friendly practices.
- Boost green growth and create new jobs – from foresters and farmers to roles in green finance and research and development.
The delivery of the plan will benefit the public across the UK, the Government commits to access green space or water within a 15-minute walk from each home, such as woodlands, wetlands, parks and rivers.
The Environmental Improvement Plan 2023 builds on the 25 Year Environment Plan (released in 2018) with new powers from the with new powers and duties from the Environment Act, Agriculture Act and Fisheries Act. The plan outlines a comprehensive delivery plan for the government’s approach to halting and then reversing the decline in nature.
The plan is part of the Government’s ongoing work to restore and protect our environment whilst boosting green growth. Since the Prime Minister started the job in October we have already:
- Set legally binding targets to halt nature’s decline, clean up our air and rivers and support a circular economy.
- Confirmed the details of our transformational farming schemes setting out the full range of actions we will pay farmers and land managers to do to restore nature.
- Announced we will ban the most commonly littered single use plastic items from October 2023.
- Published the review into sustainable urban drainage systems for new development which will reduce the risk of surface water flooding and pollution.
- Published the Plant Biosecurity Strategy for Great Britain, a five-year vision for plant health to protect native species. Plants provide an annual value of £15.7 billion to the UK.
- Played an instrumental role in a new global deal for nature at the UN Nature Summit COP15.
On the Environmental Improvement Plan 2023 Selaine Saxby, MP for North Devon, said:
“The publication of the Environmental Improvement Plan is very welcome and sets out how the Government will continue to protect and restore our natural environment. Here in North Devon, we are lucky to enjoy stunning countryside and marine areas, and this plan will bring more support to farmers and landowners working to improve and protect our local environment.
“The investment announced in the plan will be key to its success and will drive green growth and green jobs to boost rural productivity. The plan’s commitment to deliver apprenticeships in areas that work with our natural environment will bring more opportunities to rural areas.
“This roadmap to a healthier future for our country and our planet builds on the improvements that have been made since the first 25 Environment Plan in 2018, and will accelerate efforts across the country.”
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said:
“Protecting our natural environment is fundamental to the health, economy and prosperity of our country.
“This plan provides the blueprint for how we will deliver our commitment to leave our environment in a better state than we found it, making sure we drive forward progress with renewed ambition and achieve our target of not just halting, but reversing the decline of nature.”
Environment Secretary, Thérèse Coffey, said:
“Our Environmental Improvement Plan sets out how we will continue to improve our environment here in the UK and around the world. Nature is vital for our survival, crucial to our food security, clean air, and clean water as well as health and well-being benefits.
“We have already started the journey and we have seen improvements. We are transforming financial support for farmers and landowners to prioritise improving the environment, we are stepping up on tree planting, we have cleaner air, we have put a spotlight on water quality and rivers and are forcing industry to clean up its act.
“Whether you live in a city or town, in the countryside or on the coast, join us in our national endeavour to improve the environment.”