National Trust responds to Government proposals to underpin environmental commitments with legally binding targets

Press release
Murlough National Nature Reserve
Published : 18 Aug 2020 Last update : 19 Aug 2020

Our response to Government's announcement on the legally binding targets it is aiming to set to underpin environmental commitments announced on 19 August 2020

Rosie Hails, Director of Nature & Science at the National Trust said: “Strong, legally binding targets for climate change have played an extremely important role in helping to drive down the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions. Now, we need a similar targets framework to help address the wider decline in species and our environment. Talk of exploring this and potential for that won’t be good enough. These targets have to lock in the healthier air, cleaner water, more fertile soils and recovering wildlife populations that people need and our economy will rely on. To be effective, any new environmental targets will need to cover both quantity and quality – for instance both the size and the condition of green spaces and nature reserves.
“But no matter how ambitious they are, these targets will fail without strong environmental principles enshrined in law.  They also need to be accompanied by a strong and truly independent environmental watchdog and by environmental plans that clearly set out the measures that will be taken to meet those targets. 
“The targets should also be supported, rather than undermined by any proposed changes to the planning system so that people can be confident that the green spaces they care about will be protected.  The bodies charged with protecting nature, such as Natural England, and local authorities responsible for planning should be properly resourced so they can play a role in meeting these targets.
“It’s going to be especially important for the UK Government to work with the administrations in other nations to meet new, global biodiversity targets for 2030 that the UK will sign up to through the UN biodiversity conference next year.”