More of the Government’s largest new infrastructure projects must leave nature and biodiversity in an overall better state than before development, it was confirmed today (Monday 14 June), as the Government commits to delivering a ‘nature positive future’
Responding to the Dasgupta Review on The Economics of Biodiversity, which was published earlier in the year, the Government agreed with the Review’s central conclusion that nature, and the biodiversity that underpins it, ultimately sustains economies, livelihoods and well-being.
The Government is committed to delivering a ‘nature positive’ future, in which we leave the environment in a better state than we found it, and ensure economic and financial decision-making is geared towards delivering that.
New Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects in England, such as future transport and energy projects, will as a result need to provide a net gain in biodiversity and habitats for wildlife - through an amendment to be made to the Environment Bill. In parallel, as part of its ambition to be the one of the most environmentally responsible infrastructure projects ever delivered in the UK, HS2 – Europe’s largest infrastructure project – will aim to deliver a net gain in biodiversity on its Crewe-Manchester leg.
The Government has also committed today to ensuring all new UK bilateral aid spending does no harm to nature.
Additionally, building on its ambitious existing nature agenda, and in the run up to COP26, the Review response sets out how the Government will go further, including by:
committing up to £3 million additional support to the development of the Taskforce on Nature-related Financial Disclosures framework – a market-led initiative which will support business in assessing emerging nature-related risks and opportunities
working with the Office for National Statistics to improve the way nature is incorporated into our national accounts
further improving Government guidance for embedding environmental considerations into policy-making processes
incorporating biodiversity into the UK Government Green Financing Framework
joining the OECD Paris Collaborative on green budgeting, an initiative to encourage governments to incorporate climate and environmental considerations into their financial and fiscal decisions
The Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury, Kemi Badenoch, said:
Protecting and enhancing the natural environment, and the biodiversity that underpins it, is crucial to supporting sustainable, resilient economies, livelihoods and well-being. The Government has an ambitious nature agenda and our response to the independent Dasgupta Review sets out the ways in which the Government will go further to ensure our economy supports nature and wildlife – from infrastructure at home to bilateral aid spending overseas.
In this crucial year for international action to address biodiversity loss, the UK will continue to ensure the natural environment remains at the top of the international agenda.
Environment Secretary, George Eustice said:
If we want to realise the aspiration set out in Professor Dasgupta’s landmark Review to rebalance humanity’s relationship with nature, then we need policies that will both protect and enhance the supply of our natural assets. This is what lies at the heart of the Government’s 25 Year Environment Plan, and our new measures to embed biodiversity net gain further in the planning system for major infrastructure, through our landmark Environment Bill. It’s also behind our approach to future farming policy and other initiatives such as £3 billion for climate change solutions that restore nature globally and our new due diligence law to clean up our supply chains and help tackle illegal deforestation.
Significant progress is already being made towards delivering a nature positive future, and today’s response builds on a range of action already taken. This includes a new target on species abundance for 2030, aimed at halting species decline, and a commitment to protect 30% of the UK’s land and ocean by 2030 along with encouraging others to do the same, including through the UK’s G7 Presidency where yesterday, the G7 endorsed a Nature Compact to halt and reverse biodiversity loss by 2030.
G7 leaders also agreed plans to transform the financing of infrastructure projects in developing countries - the ‘Build Back Better for the World’ plan - bringing together G7 countries under the UK’s presidency to develop an offer for high-quality financing for vital infrastructure, from railways in Africa to wind farms in Asia.
The Prime Minister launched the UK’s £500m Blue Planet Fund to support countries including Ghana, Indonesia and Pacific island states to tackle unsustainable fishing, protect and restore coastal ecosystems like mangroves and coral reefs, and reduce marine pollution.
In England, the support provided to the agricultural sector is being reoriented to improve the environment, animal health and welfare, and reduce carbon emissions. The government has also committed to spend at least £3 billion of the UK’s International Climate Finance on nature and biodiversity over five years. And the government has set out a Ten Point Plan for a green industrial revolution which will mobilise £12 billion of government investment to create and support up to 250,000 highly-skilled green jobs across the UK.
At the recent G7 Finance Ministers meeting, agreement was also reached to implement and strengthen registries of company beneficial ownership information. This is a major step forward in global efforts to tackle illicit finance and will also boost the UK’s work as G7 President to tackle environmental crimes – like the illegal wildlife trade and illegal logging.
The government’s full response can be read here
The independent Dasgupta Review on The Economics of Biodiversity was commissioned by the government in 2019 and was published on February 2021. It is available here
Last week the Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury supported the launch of the Taskforce on Nature-related Financial Disclosures (TNFD), which will help to better Integrate nature into financial decision-making. See here
The HS2 announcement goes further than the existing commitment of no net loss in biodiversity on HS2, and sets a new standard for HS2’s environmental commitments. Going forward the aim is to ensure that HS2 continues to be one of the most environmentally responsible infrastructure projects ever delivered in the UK.
The Government and HS2 Ltd recognise that ancient woodland is an irreplaceable resource. Ancient woodland, and all associated compensation, is excluded from the current HS2 No Net Loss (NNL) biodiversity calculations, and will continue to be excluded from our net gain goal. The project will continue to seek to further reduce the impacts of the scheme on all irreplaceable habitats.