Exploring the UK’s Environmental Strategies
At the end of June 2019, the government announced that the UK became the first major economy in the world to pass laws that would end its contribution to global warming by 2050. The law will require the UK to bring all greenhouse gas emissions to net-zero.
Any emissions would need to be balanced by schemes that offset an equivalent amount of greenhouse gases from the atmosphere. This could include activities such as tree planting or deploying technology like carbon capture and storage.
Clean Growth Strategy 2017
Towards the end of 2017, the UK published its Clean Growth Strategy which set out the government’s plans to invest £2.5 billion (up to 2021) to support low carbon innovation and growth.
The Strategy represents excellent opportunities for the UK’s urban landscapes to look at how they can increase the amount of sustainable energy generation for their communities, businesses and their own building stock, whilst reducing dependency on the national grid for energy supply (for example, by initiating the growth of localised energy grids, or enabling individual buildings to become self-sufficient by deploying a combination of solar PV, battery storage and grid rebalancing technologies.
Transport Investment Strategy 2017
On 5th July 2017, the government launched its Transport Investment Strategy for the UK, which sets out its priorities and approach for future transport investment decisions.
It reaffirms the government’s commitment of ensuring that all vehicles on the UK’s roads are zero-emission by 2050, linking in with the new net-zero emission target.
There are strong links with the Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy 2017 which outlines the government’s ambition to make cycling and walking a natural choice for shorter journeys, or as part of longer journeys by 2040.
A Green Future: A 25 Year Plan to Improve the Environment 2018
One of the Plan’s major objectives is to not only stop the decline of England’s natural resources but to enhance them – creating the ‘first generation to leave the environment in a better state than we found it’.
In Spring 2019, the government confirmed that new developments must deliver an overall increase in biodiversity and will use the forthcoming Environment Bill to mandate ‘biodiversity net gain’. This will mean that the delivery of new infrastructure and housing cannot be done at the expense of biodiversity loss and will require developers to ensure that habitats for wildlife are enhanced and left in a ‘measurably better state then they were pre-development.
Resources and Waste Strategy 2018
The Strategy sets out the government’s vision for a new approach, with some eye-catching and ambitious policies that will take great steps towards enabling the growth of a more circular economy and help to eliminate avoidable plastic waste.
It signals a major overall of the current waste system, with major changes that will see the legal onus placed on those responsible for producing damaging waste to pay for the costs of recycling of disposing of the packaging, it will see shoppers charged up-front deposit when purchasing drinks in single-use containers (deposit return scheme) and will ensure that recycling systems will be simplified for householders.
Clean Air Strategy 2019
In January 2019, the government published its new Clean Air Strategy, unveiling a pledge to bring the UK’s air quality into line with World Health Organisation guidelines on particulate matter, proposing new policies to tackle emissions from biomass and agriculture, whilst also focusing upon air quality around farming and rail transport. This includes a reference to how future electricity, heat and industrial policies will help improve air quality and tackle climate change, for example phasing out coal-fired power stations, improve energy efficiency and addressing road transport e.g. ending the sale of conventional petrol and diesel cars and vans by 2040.