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Response to Dasgupta Review good first step but further action needed

14th June 2021

Responding to the publication of the Government’s response to the Dasgupta Review, Signe Norberg, Head of Public Affairs and Communications at the Aldersgate Group, said: “It is positive to see the Government taking on board the findings from the Dasgupta Review and in particular the fact that economic and financial policy decision making has a crucial role to play in supporting the restoration of a healthy natural environment and ensuring the long-term resilience of the economy. The response also confirms that biodiversity net gain will apply to nationally significant infrastructure projects in England, which is an important development that helps bolster this important provision in the Environment Bill.”

Signe Norberg added: “However, today’s response does not amount to the necessary step change called for by Professor Sir Dasgupta. It is vital that the response goes further and clearly lays out a cross-departmental plan with a range of commitments that support the mainstreaming of nature into economic decision making. In addition to contributing to the Better Regulation Framework and supporting the development of nature-related financial disclosures, it is important that the whole of Government takes on the challenge posed by the Review and introduces new measures in the near and long term to support nature’s recovery. An ambitious Environment Bill, with binding interim targets and environmental improvement plans focused on delivering these targets, can play a key role in driving investment to restore the natural environment to the healthy status that our economy and society need.”

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Strengthened Environment Bill key to reach net zero and tackle biodiversity crisis

18th May 2021

In reaction to the Environment Secretary’s speech on nature, Signe Norberg, Head of Public Affairs and Communications at the Aldersgate Group, said: “It is positive to see a strong commitment today from Government on nature, highlighting the importance of biodiversity, peatlands and trees in delivering on our net zero target. To support net zero and tackle the biodiversity crisis, it will be important to see further improvements to the Environment Bill. In addition to the new species target, the Bill must be strengthened by legally binding interim targets and clearer links between environmental improvement plans and long-term targets. Finally, to realise the vision of the Dasgupta Review, Government needs to champion this agenda and its formal response needs to set out a clear action plan that details next steps for Government, business and civil society.”

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Ambitious principles key to putting environment at the heart of policy making

10th March 2021

Reacting to the publication of the draft environmental principles policy statement, Signe Norberg, Head of Public Affairs and Communications at the Aldersgate Group, said: "This publication marks a crucial step forward in progressing the Environment Bill ahead of Royal Assent and, ultimately, placing environment at the heart of UK policy making. However, to achieve this goal the policy statement must be highly ambitious so that it can generate the desired economic, social and environmental benefits. The environmental principles are a crucial element of this. Having clear and ambitious principles integrated into Government policy provides a clear direction of travel, and creates market signals which will allow businesses to innovate, invest in new low carbon goods and services, grow supply chains and create jobs. [1] We look forward to working with Government on the policy statement during the consultation process."

- ENDS -

[1] On 2 March 2021, the Aldersgate Group published its latest report, Fostering Prosperity: Driving innovation and creating market opportunities through environmental regulations, written by global design engineering consultancy Buro Happold. The report finds that ambitious and well-designed environmental regulations have a track record of delivering significant economic and environmental benefits. You can access the report here

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Businesses need nature at heart of economic policy making

2nd February 2021

Reacting to the publication of Professor Sir Partha Dasgupta’s Independent Review on the Economics of Biodiversity, Signe Norberg, Head of Public Affairs and Communications at the Aldersgate Group, said: "The publication of the Dasgupta Review today powerfully demonstrates the huge disconnect between current models of economic growth and the state of nature. Given the alarming rate at which some natural assets are being depleted, today’s review must constitute a vital step change in how we assess nature and measure economic success. Concretely, this means that it is high time we look beyond GDP and include natural capital at the heart of our economic measurement tools, something which many businesses and financial institutions have raised for a number of years [1]. It is also essential that the Government’s net zero and nature restoration agendas be progressed hand in hand given how interconnected they both are."

Signe Norberg added: "It is clear from the findings of the Dasgupta Review that a wide range of actions need to be taken to halt and reverse biodiversity loss, including growing investment in nature restoration and resource efficiency, accelerating the transition to net zero emissions, and embedding environmental sustainability at the heart of the education system. It is therefore essential that today’s findings now drive stronger commitments as part of the Environment Bill, the integration of biodiversity net gain in the planning system, the implementation of the Resources and Waste Strategy, the development of the UK’s net zero strategy and the Government’s ongoing review of skills policy."

- ENDS -

[1] The Aldersgate Group published a report in November 2015, Investing in our natural assets: how government can support business action, which highlighted important steps to ensure the UK achieves a resilient and competitive economy that carefully maintains and improves the state of its natural resources.

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Businesses call for binding interim targets in the Environment Bill

26th January 2021

Today the Aldersgate Group and several of its business members have published a letter calling on MPs to support an amendment to make interim targets legally binding when the Environment Bill returns to Parliament on Tuesday 26 January.

The Environment Bill is a vital opportunity to establish a new, ambitious and robust governance framework that protects and enhances the natural environment. Amongst other things, the Bill sets the foundation for a new independent environmental watchdog to hold the government to account, creates long-term binding targets within priority areas (air quality, water, biodiversity, and resource efficiency and waste reduction), and introduces interim targets to support the delivery of long-term targets.

To meet its ambition and put in place a strong a strong framework to deliver environmental improvements, businesses are calling for binding interim targets in the Environment Bill. Having strong interim targets in place to drive progress on the long-term targets helps ensure that government remains on track to meet them, and it provides businesses with a clear policy and regulatory framework to invest in. Without them, we risk backloading action which could undermine the delivery of long-term targets and make their delivery more costly.

This is why the Aldersgate Group and several businesses are calling on MPs to support an amendment to the Environment Bill which strengthens the Bill by expanding the Secretary of State’s duty to include meeting interim targets, in addition to meeting the long-term targets and the PM2.5 target.

- THE LETTER -

We represent businesses active across the UK economy and share the Prime Minister’s vision for a green economic recovery and the development of a world-class environmental policy framework in the UK. We fully support the Government’s Environment Bill and in particular the commitment to introducing binding long-term targets to improve the state of the natural environment in areas such as air and water quality, biodiversity and resource efficiency.

However, to support their credibility and avoid backloading action, these long-term targets must be underpinned by regular and binding milestones that will require successive governments to act without delay. This will provide the business community with a predictable and comprehensive set of policies, which will drive investment in the natural environment and improved environmental performance.

As the Environment Bill nears Royal Assent, we call on the Bill to be strengthened, by making interim targets binding. We stand ready to work closely with Government to deliver the improvements to our natural environment that our society and economy urgently need.

Signed:

Nick Molho, Executive Director, Aldersgate Group

Alex Plant, Director of Strategy and Regulation, Anglian Water

Sue Riddlestone, CEO, Bioregional

Peter Jelkeby, Country Retail Manager and Chief Sustainability Officer, IKEA UK and Ireland

Mathew Riley, Managing Director, Ramboll

John Scanlon, Chief Executive Officer, SUEZ

Bevis Watts, CEO, Triodos Bank UK

Julia Barrett, Chief Sustainability Officer, Willmott Dixon

Jim Coleman, Director – Head of Economics, WSP

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Work on the Environment Bill must continue at pace despite delay

26th January 2021

Reacting to the delay of the Environment Bill, Signe Norberg, Head of Public Affairs and Communications at the Aldersgate Group, said: “While the delay to the Environment Bill due to the coronavirus pandemic is understandable, it is vital that Government uses this additional time to consider amendments to strengthen the Bill. This should entail making interim targets binding to ensure continuous action to improve the natural environment, introducing an overarching target which helps guide the setting of the long-term targets, and safeguarding the Office for Environmental Protection’s independence. Businesses want an ambitious Bill that requires successive governments to act urgently and introduce tangible policy measures to significantly improve the state of the natural environment. An ambitious and predictable policy environment is essential to incentivise private investment in nature restoration, improved environmental performance and more resource efficient business models. [1]”

- ENDS -

[1] Aldersgate Group and several of its business members have published a letter calling on MPs to support an amendment to make interim targets legally binding when the Environment Bill returns to Parliament on Tuesday 26 January. Please go here to read more: https://www.aldersgategroup.org.uk/latest#businesses-call-for-binding-interim-targets-in-the-environment-bill

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Focus on nature restoration is welcome but needs to be amplified through Environment Bill

14th November 2020

Reacting to the Government’s announcement on the Green Recovery Challenge Fund and the creation of new Landscape Recovery Projects, Nick Molho, Executive Director at the Aldersgate Group, said: “The Government’s growing focus on nature restoration as part of its economic recovery plan is encouraging and makes good sense from an environmental and economic perspective. Projects such as woodland creation and the restoration of wetlands and peatlands are proven to be very effective at generating jobs [1] as well as having a key role to play in reversing the decline of the natural environment and helping the UK better adapt to the impacts from climate change.”

Nick Molho added: “Going forward, the challenge will be to take a strategic approach to nature restoration to deliver improvements at scale. In addition to the Environmental Land Management Scheme being introduced as part of the Agricultural Bill, this will require the Government to commit to a set of ambitious nature improvement targets and associated policy measures under the Environment Bill. [2]”

—ENDS—

[1] See Rebuilding to Last, the comprehensive economic analysis on COVID-19 recovery commissioned by the Aldersgate Group from the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change at the London School of Economics: https://www.aldersgategroup.org.uk/latest#rebuilding-to-last-uk-must-not-go-back-to-the-old-normal

[2] See the Aldersgate Group’s latest briefing on how ambitious targets under the Environment Bill should be designed: https://www.aldersgategroup.org.uk/asset/1704

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Parliament must seize opportunity to strengthen the Environment Bill

3rd November 2020

Reacting to the return of the Environment Bill today, Signe Norberg, Public Affairs Manager at the Aldersgate Group, said: “It is great to see the Environment Bill return to Parliament after over 200 days. Progress on the Bill must continue now at pace to ensure that we have a robust environmental governance system after the end of the transition period. While the delay caused by the pandemic has been understandable, Government must now prioritise the Bill in order to provide sufficient time for comprehensive parliamentary scrutiny and minimise the risk of any governance gaps following the end of the transition period.” 

Signe Norberg added: “The Environment Bill has the potential to be a world leading piece of environmental legislation but it needs to be strengthened in a number of areas, including the target setting process, the interim targets and the environmental improvement plans.[1] Further clarity on the creation of the Office for Environmental Protection and related interim arrangements will be crucial. This should include greater transparency on the new amendments giving the Secretary of State power to issue guidance on the watchdog’s enforcement function and moving environmental reviews from the Upper Tribunal to the High Court."

—ENDS—

The Aldersgate Group has produced a paper on the published environmental targets policy paper, which you can find here. It provides some constructive recommendations for the Government and the independent panel of experts to consider when entering the next phase of the target setting process. This builds on the second reading briefing which was produced when the Environment Bill was first introduced. 

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Ambitious environmental targets key to drive long term investment

19th August 2020

Reacting to the publication of the Government’s environmental targets policy paper, Signe Norberg, Public Affairs Manager at Aldersgate Group, said: “Today’s publication of the environmental targets policy paper represents a significant opportunity for the UK to set new, ambitious and legally binding targets. These targets need to set a clear expectation for future policies and result in coherent and holistic improvements to the natural environment. If designed correctly, these targets will provide much needed long-term policy direction to businesses, shape environmental policies in the decades to come, and drive private sector investment in the natural environment. This is the beginning of that process, and we look forward to working with the Government in developing these targets further.”
 
Signe Norberg added: “Looking ahead, it is crucial that the targets are accompanied by the passage of an ambitious Environment Bill, including a clear process for setting robust interim targets, and accelerated work to put in place a functioning and well-resourced Office for Environmental Protection by the start of 2021. As the Government looks to ‘build back greener’, it is essential that the new target framework is sufficiently clear and ambitious to drive policy making for many years to come and result in much higher levels of investment in the natural environmental and resource efficiency.”

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Ambitious Environment and Agriculture Bills key to “putting nature at heart of recovery”

20th July 2020

The Aldersgate Group welcomed the commitment by Environment Secretary George Eustice today to put nature at the heart of the recovery but said that including nature restoration projects in stimulus investments and making rapid progress on ambitious Environment and Agriculture Bills was essential to put this commitment into practice.

Reacting to the Environment Secretary’s speech today, Nick Molho, Executive Director of the Aldersgate Group said: “A healthy natural environment is essential to the wellbeing of the economy and society.It is heartening to hear the Environment Secretary’s commitments to “redouble efforts” to improve the state of the environment and ensure that decisions relating to or impacting on the environment must be guided by sound scientific evidence.

Putting nature at the heart of the recovery requires the government to take a three-pronged approach. First, any changes to environmental impact assessments must result in a planning system that is predictable, science-based and focused on delivering environmental improvements. Second, nature restoration projects such as wetland or peatland restoration projects must be included in future public stimulus investments. Third, rapid progress will need to be made in the Autumn to finalise the Environmental and Agriculture Bills and develop a system of ambitious targets, all of which are essential to drive long-term private investment towards environmental improvement projects.”

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The Environment Bill returns to Parliament for second reading

21st February 2020

Ahead of the second reading of the Environment Bill on Wednesday 26 February, the Aldersgate Group has published its briefing on the key changes it wishes to see. The Environment Bill is a vital opportunity to establish a new, ambitious and robust governance framework that protects and enhances the natural environment. Businesses fully support the strong enforcement of environmental law and the protection of the natural environment as a healthy environment is essential to a competitive economy - with most business models being reliant in one way or another on natural assets.

To realise the government’s ambition of having “the most ambitious environmental programme of any country on earth”, the Aldersgate Group highlights three changes that would make the Bills stronger from a business perspective:

  • The target-setting framework needs to be strengthened. For businesses to have confidence in the target-setting process, the Bill needs to be more explicit about the ambition of future targets, the criteria that will be used to determine the targets and how they will work together to deliver the desired environmental improvements. This will help to ensure that future long-term targets deliver coherent environmental improvements in all priority areas.
  • Businesses need greater clarity on actions in the near-term to put the country on track to meet the targets. Legally binding targets are important but taking action in the near future will determine whether the UK will be on track to deliver these objectives. Consequently, for long-term targets to be seen by businesses as credible and investible, there needs to be confidence that successive governments will take sustained, regular action to deliver these targets. This allows businesses to have confidence that the interim targets will genuinely drive government action and that remedial policy action will be taken, should it appear that interim targets will be missed.
  • The Environment Bill needs to provide confidence that there will be a level playing field in delivering the ambitious environmental improvement targets. Having an independent and well-resourced watchdog with effective enforcement powers is essential to the proper application of environmental law and to the creation of a level playing field for business. The Bill therefore needs to set out a formal role for the relevant parliamentary committee in approving the Chair of the OEP, akin to the role of the Treasury Select Committee in the process to confirm the appointment of the Chair of the Office for Budget Responsibility.
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Legally binding targets mark significant milestone for the environment

15th October 2019

Reacting to the publication today of the Environment Bill, Sarah Williams, Public Affairs Manager at the Aldersgate Group said: “It is a lack of clarity about the future which deters business investment. This is why businesses have backed the introduction of an ambitious and robust environmental governance framework that includes a comprehensive range of legally binding environmental improvement targets to support investment in the natural environment over the long term. The inclusion of a process to set such targets in the Environment Bill is hugely welcome. Business and civil society look forward to continuing to work with government to develop these targets and ensure they drive immediate action.”
 
Sarah Williams added: “It is great to see the progress that has been made in many areas of the Bill – importantly the Office for Environmental Protection (OEP) has improved enforcement powers and will now be able to enforce all climate change legislation. It also includes many enabling powers that will drive delivery, such as the ability to set resource efficiency requirements for products and roll out Extended Producer Responsibility schemes. When developed these will allow the UK to capitalise on the real opportunity to achieve greater resource efficiency in product design.”
 
Sarah Williams concluded: “Work is still required to strengthen parts of the Bill – for instance, the OEP must be set up in a way that ensures its independence, with at the very least a pre-appointment hearing being held for its chair. We will also need to make sure that environmental principles continue to be robustly applied across government decision-making.”

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Reactive to Secretary of State Michael Gove's environment speech

16th July 2019

Reacting to Secretary of State Michael Gove’s environment speech today, Nick Molho, Executive Director at the Aldersgate Group, said: “We strongly welcome the Secretary of State laying out a clear political, economic and moral case to rapidly tackle environmental degradation. The Environment Bill isn’t only of significant importance to society and business – as Mr Gove rightly points out – but it is also core to the success of our overall environmental and climate policy as a healthier environment is critical to our ability to reduce emissions and adapt to climate change.
 
For the Bill to mark a genuine step change in environmental action, it is imperative that it contains an overarching objective to significantly improve the state of the natural environment. This objective must be supported by a comprehensive set of targets in secondary legislation aimed at improving key aspects of the natural environment such as air and water quality, soil quality, biodiversity and resource efficiency. This is essential to drive private sector investment in the years to come. By having legally binding targets and a comprehensive scrutiny and reporting regime that requires the government to take action to deliver them, the Bill will drive the recovery of our natural environment, grow our environment’s ability to absorb emissions and ensure that our homes, infrastructure and businesses are more resilient to the impacts of unavoidable climate change. It will also strengthen the position of UK businesses as global leaders in the provision of environmental technologies and services.”

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Broadway Initiative calls for an ambitious Environment Bill

28th May 2019

Today, the Broadway Initiative, of which the Aldersgate Group is a member, publishes its Assurances for an Environment Act. These key demands for an ambitious Environment Act – which are supported by key business organisations representing a very broad range of economic sectors – reflect the growing business consensus that ambitious, stable and properly enforced environmental regulations are good for the economy as well as the environment.

The key policy asks from the Broadway Initiative are for the upcoming Environment Act – the first in over 20 years – to put in place a genuinely independent and well-resourced Office for Environmental Protection, ambitious environmental principles to guide all future policy making and long-term targets to improve the state of the natural environment in line with the objectives of the Government’s 25 Year Environment Plan.

Download the full statement and list of supportive organisations at the button to the right.


Long-term targets essential to success of Environment Bill

19th December 2018

Reacting to the publication today of the Draft Environment Bill, Nick Molho, Executive Director of the Aldersgate Group said: “We welcome the government’s ambition to establish a world-leading green governance framework. Progress has been made in several areas of the government’s proposals such as improving the Office for Environmental Protection’s powers on enforcement, although there is still work to be done to ensure as strong an enforcement system once the UK has left the European Union.

The pre-legislative scrutiny process should aim to reinforce the progress made on governance arrangements, by in particular clarifying how the Office for Environmental Protection can be set up in a way that best ensures its proper independence, elevating the government’s statutory duty to act in accordance with environmental principles rather than just have “regard to” the policy statement and broadening the scope of the policy statement to include the government’s fiscal and spending decisions.”

Nick Molho added: “It is welcome to see confirmation from government that they are exploring the inclusion of new environmental targets in the Environment Bill. Businesses have repeatedly welcomed the environmental improvement ambition shown in the government’s 25 Year Environment Plan but without the clarity provided by underpinning legislation, sufficient business investment to deliver natural environment improvement goals will not be forthcoming [1]. As we have seen following the impacts of legislation on waste, vehicle emissions and climate change, clear objectives in the Environment Bill, backed by the introduction of statutory measurable targets and delivery policies, will unlock business investment in new technologies, production processes, facilities and products [2]. An ambitious Environment Bill backed by clear targets will deliver environmental and economic benefits for the UK and cement its reputation as a world-leader in environmental action.”

—ENDS—

[1] Multi-sector business support for the introduction of environmental goals in the Environment Bill can be seen in a letter to the editor of the Sunday Telegraph published on 4 November.

[2] BuroHappold Engineering (December 2017) Help or Hindrance? Environmental regulations and competitiveness was commissioned by the Aldersgate Group and is based on business interviews studying the impacts of three key environmental regulations in the buildings (London Plan), waste (Landfill Tax) and car (EU Regulations on passenger cars) industries. It concludes that the compliance cost attached to each regulation has been more than offset by the economic benefits they have triggered. These include greater business investment in innovation and skills, better quality and performing products and infrastructure, greater business competitiveness and net job creation.

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Top companies back green targets

6th November 2018

On 4th November, the Sunday Telegraph published our letter, signed by 20 business organisations, arguing that there is a strong business case for including long-term environment goals in the upcoming Environment Bill. See full text below:

Britain’s first environmental Bill in over 20 years is a unique opportunity to improve the competitiveness of the British economy and demonstrate continued environmental leadership after Brexit.

As organisations operating across multiple sectors of Britain’s economy, we believe that ambitious, well-designed and properly enforced environmental regulations make good business sense. They provide a level playing field, incentivise investment in innovation and skills, support job creation and help businesses develop commercial strengths in fast- growing areas of the world economy. We have seen this dynamic at play in, for example, the introduction of environmental regulations in the construction, waste and car manufacturing industries.

We therefore call on the Government to strengthen its 25 Year Environment Plan by introducing environmental goals in the upcoming Environment Bill. The Bill should at least set measurable targets to cover improvements to air and water quality, soil health, peatland restoration, net biodiversity gain and resource efficiency.

If supported by detailed policies and an effective environmental watchdog, this legislation would send clear signals for businesses to invest in environmental improvements and resource efficiency, and ensure that we pass on a healthy environment and competitive economy to the next generation.

Nick MolhoExecutive director, Aldersgate Group, Javier Quiñones, Country Retail Manager, Ikea UK and Ireland, Mike Barry, Director of Sustainable Business, Marks & Spencer, Stefano Agostini, CEO, Nestlé UK & Ireland, Juergen Maier, CEO, Siemens plc, Jonathan Hampson, General Manager, Zipcar UK, Peter Simpson, Chief Executive Officer, Anglian Water, Duncan Price, Partner, Sustainability, BuroHappold Engineering, Martin Casey, Director, Public Affairs Europe, CEMEX, Dale Vince, Founder, Ecotricity, Ece Ozdemiroglu, Director, eftecRichard Speak, Founder Director, Environmental Finance, Nigel Stansfield, President, Interface EMEA, Nick Lakin, Group Director of Corporate Affairs, Kingfisher plcCaroline MayHead of Safety and Environment, Norton Rose Fulbright LLP, Dr Richard AndrewsManaging Principal, Europe & Africa, Ramboll Environment and Health UK LtdDavid Palmer-JonesCEO, SUEZ Recycling & Recovery UKBevis WattsManaging Director, Triodos Bank UKRick WillmottGroup Chief Executive, Willmott DixonDavid SymonsUK Sustainability Director, WSP.

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Legislation is essential if businesses are to invest in the 25 Year Environment Plan

24th July 2018

Responding to the House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee (EAC)’s report today on The Government’s 25 Year Plan for the Environment, Nick Molho, Executive Director of the Aldersgate Group, said: “Contrary to a common misconception, an ambitious, well-designed and properly enforced environmental regulatory framework will deliver significant economic benefits by supporting investment in more innovative and efficient business practices, increasing private sector investment to improve the state of the natural environment and providing a level playing field for businesses across the economy. [1]

The upcoming Environment Bill is a unique opportunity to move beyond the status quo as envisaged in the 25 Year Environment Plan and set long-term goals to improve the state of the natural environment on which businesses and the economy are heavily dependent. As the EAC argues, these targets should include measurable improvements to air and water quality, soil health, biodiversity and the UK economy’s resource efficiency, be underpinned by clear milestones, and be established within a suitable advisory and reporting architecture.”

Nick Molho added: “The EAC rightly highlights that the government’s initial proposals for the governance body must be strengthened to ensure environmental protections are maintained after Brexit, particularly in terms of enforcement where the new body must have the power to take legal action against the government as a last resort. It is also right to emphasise the importance of the body directly overseeing all public bodies, as well as ensuring its independence by being accountable to and funded by Parliament in a similar way to the National Audit Office. This will ensure that the body is a truly world-leading institution as the government desires.”

[1] BuroHappold Engineering (December 2017) Help or Hindrance? Environmental regulations and competitiveness was commissioned by the Aldersgate Group and is based on business interviews studying the impacts of three key environmental regulations in the buildings (London Plan), waste (Landfill Tax) and car (EU Regulations on passenger cars) industries. It concludes that the compliance cost attached to each regulation has been more than offset by the economic benefits they have triggered. These include greater business investment in innovation and skills, better quality and performing products and infrastructure, greater business competitiveness and net job creation.

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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.

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Unlocking investment in the UK's natural environment is essential for a productive and resilient economy

6th November 2017

Today the Aldersgate Group publishes two briefingsKey asks for the 25 Year Environment Plan, which sets out business priorities for the upcoming 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.
 
Nick Molho, Executive Director of the Aldersgate Group said: “Our economy and society are hugely reliant on the goods and services provided by nature and are also vulnerable to the impacts of a changing climate. Investing in our natural environment will help improve both the productivity and resilience of businesses, supply chains and communities. The forthcoming 25 Year Environment Plan is an opportunity to show cross-government leadership and set clear legally binding targets that help support the growth of innovative natural capital enhancement projects.”
 
Nick Molho added: “Significant investment will be needed from the private sector to improve the state of the UK’s natural environment and meet the goals of the 25 Year Environment Plan. Whilst the natural capital finance market is currently nascent, innovation from business, investors and communities as well as targeted government intervention can work in tandem to develop its maturity by identifying new revenue models.
 
Opportunities include the reform of agricultural subsidy payments to increase focus on sustainable land management following the UK’s exit from the European Union, setting up an innovation fund that provides resources for the private sector to develop new financing models, and creating a Natural Capital Investment Fund that provides seed funding for priority natural capital projects across the country.”

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25 Year Environment Plan key to improve UK’s natural assets and resilience to flooding

2nd November 2016

The Aldersgate Group welcomed the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee's proposals today for a much wider use of measures such as tree planting and improved soil management to help address flood risk[1]. The Group highlighted the importance of developing a 25 Year Environment Plan to improve the state of the UK’s natural environment and the resilience of its infrastructure.

As highlighted in the Aldersgate Group’s recent report Setting the pace: Northern England’s low carbon economy, examples such as the Slowing the Flow project in Pickering, North Yorkshire and the Alkborough Flats project in Lincolnshire show the potential of natural capital solutions for flood management[2].

Nick Molho, Executive Director of the Aldersgate Group said: “Whilst it is understandable that the timetable for the government’s 25 Year Environment Plan has been impacted by the vote to leave the European Union, we would press Defra to publish a framework for the plan as soon as possible. Investing in natural assets can help protect businesses and communities from flooding and increase the resilience of the UK’s infrastructure to the future impacts of climate change.”

Nick Molho added: “As the EFRA Committee has highlighted, post-Brexit we have an opportunity to reconfigure the agricultural subsidy system to one more focused on the provision of positive environmental outcomes. Channelling greater funds towards sustainable land use practices will help support the farming community in delivering environmental enhancements such as improved water catchment management and reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.”


[1] Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee (November 2016) Future Flood Prevention

[2] The Slowing the Flow initiative has used a range of land management techniques, including reseeding heather and planting new woodlands to reduce the chance of flooding in the town from 25% to 4% or less in any given year - see: bit.ly/slowtf. The Alkborough Flats project involved the flooding of 440 hectares of intensively farmed agricultural land on the south bank of the Humber Estuary to act as a storage site for floodwater and reduce costal erosion. The project is estimated to deliver total flood risk management benefits of £12.26m over 100 years, in addition to an annual £165,000 of enhanced recreation and tourism, and almost £750,000 per year from wildlife habitat benefits - see: bit.ly/Alkmr and UK National Ecosystem Assessment (2011).

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