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25 Year Environment Plan: good policy direction but clearer measures needed to drive business investment in natural capital

11th January 2018

Reacting to the publication of the 25 Year Environment Plan, Nick Molho, Executive Director of the Aldersgate Group said: “Today, the government rightly highlighted the economic, social and health benefits of investing in the natural environment. By setting out long-term goals to improve our environment and committing to introducing reliable metrics to monitor progress, this plan provides much needed clarity on the direction of the UK’s environmental policy as it leaves the EU. Businesses will be at the heart of delivering the UK’s environmental goals and the Plan’s focus on significantly improving the resource efficiency of the economy and setting up a green business council is strongly welcomed.”
However, for the plan to be successful in the long term, it will need to coherently address the multiple barriers that are slowing down business investment in the natural environment. Some of those can be addressed by the ongoing reform of agricultural payments but others will require targeted government interventions in the form of outcomes focused regulations and incentives, support for natural capital innovation such as through the natural environment impact fund suggested in the Plan, improving business access to technical expertise and growing the UK’s green capital markets.”    
Nick Molho added: “By publishing clear goals to improve the state of the natural environment, the government is showing important leadership. This will need to be supported by government itself leading by example, by fulfilling its commitment to deliver net environmental gain in major national infrastructure projects such as HS2 and developing a public procurement policy that favours businesses with a focus on resource efficiency and natural capital enhancements.”

[1] In November 2017, the Aldersgate Group published two briefings Key asks for the 25 Year Environment Plan, which sets out business priorities for the plan, and Increasing investment in natural capital, which recommends actions by businesses and government to overcome the barriers currently restricting flows of finance towards natural capital projects.