May sets out ‘cleaner, greener’ plan for UK

A renewables industry leader has called for bolder action to tackle climate change after Prime Minister Theresa May unveiled the Government’s 25-year plan that aims to improve the state of the UK’s environment.

Goals outlined by the plan included cleaner air, reduced risk of harm from flooding and drought and more sustainable use of resources.

Measures announced as part of the document include curbing emissions from combustion plants and generators and establishing a new green business council as well as exploring the potential for a natural environment impact fund.

The Government also plans to extend the carrier bag tax in England to smaller shops and create an independent environmental watchdog.

The Government said a “healthy environment supports a healthy economy”.

“By taking a leading role, and developing the technologies, skills and services needed to manage our relationship with the natural world more thoroughly, we can also grow our economy by exporting our expertise around the world,” it said.

Luke-warm reception from environmentalists

Hugh McNeal, Chief Executive at the RenewableUK trade body, said the Government was right to put the environment at the top of its agenda, but said the it must move faster and further on practical measures to protect the environment.

“The greatest threat to our natural environment comes from climate change. Ramping up our use of cheap renewable power, such as new onshore wind, is the cheapest and most effective way of tackling this.

He also said green policies are particularly popular among younger voters, with the Government’s own opinion polls showing that 79% of voters under 45 support developing new onshore wind and just 3% oppose it.

Tanya Steele, Chief Executive at environmental charity WWF, said the commitments under the plan will “only become a reality if they are backed by the force of law, money and a new environmental watchdog”.

Craig Bennett, Chief Executive at Friends of the Earth, argued: “It’s time to stop tinkering at the margins and get to the heart of the problems – especially the nation’s fossil fuels addiction.”

Energy efficiency target warning

Meanwhile, The UK Government’s energy efficiency targets don’t go far enough, according to a poll of Environmental Industries Commission (EIC) members.

Ministers’ Clean Growth Strategy wants energy productivity from UK industry to increase by 20% by 2030 compared with “business-as-usual” levels.

Fourteen per cent of EIC members believe current goals are “not ambitious at all” or “not very ambitious”.

A further 45% think the targets “could be more ambitious”.

> Download the 25-year plan