Today (Wednesday 29 November), there has been widespread coverage of the government's new package of measures to improve public access to nature and reverse its decline. The announcement has been covered across a number of national outlets, including the BBC, The Guardian, The Times, The Daily Mail and The Daily Telegraph.
Secretary of State Steve Barclay discussed the package in a number of broadcast interviews with the BBC, Times Radio, Sky News, LBC, GB News and ITN, outlining how the new policies will help to better connect people with nature.
Amongst the policies announced was the beginning of a search for a new National Park, a competition to find a site for a national forest, two new community forests in Tees Valley and Derbyshire and £2.5 million in funding to for disadvantaged children and young people to access green spaces.
When the designation process is complete , the new National Park will be England’s 11th and will fulfil a government manifesto commitment. The move comes alongside £10 million of additional funding announced for existing National Parks and protected landscapes over this year and next to help support them with funding pressures. Around £5 million of new funding was also announced to improving the quality of water courses in these landscapes.
Other measures involved in the package included more of a say for the public in the felling of street trees, the second round of funding for the Landscape Recovery scheme, which will facilitate 34 new projects, and a new temperate rainforest strategy, including £750,000 for research and development into how to protect our rainforests.
Establishing new forests, including plans for a new national forest and two community forests in the Tees Valley and Derbyshire, will help the UK to meet net zero targets, while offering new habitats to boost biodiversity and nature recovery. Public access to woodlands was also boosted with a Woodland Access Plan.
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said:
I shared in the nation’s profound sense of anger in response to what happened at the Sycamore Gap earlier this year, but the public’s outrage fundamentally demonstrated just how much love the British people have for the natural world.
From Yorkshire’s historic rolling moors to ancient rainforest on the Cornish coast, we are home to many globally significant landscapes. We must do all it takes to protect these much-loved spaces and ensure that love for the natural world continues into the next generations.
As I head to COP28, we are reasserting the UK’s leading role in promoting our iconic landscapes and keeping nature at the centre of our action to tackle climate change.
Environment Secretary Steve Barclay said:
Nature is at the foundation of food production, water security, and is critical to our economy, and our mental and physical health. It is why it is so important to deliver on our commitment to halt the decline of nature and safeguard at least 30 percent of our extraordinary landscapes.
Through our Environmental Improvement Plan and today’s announcement, we are creating more opportunities for people to access nature, spend time outdoors and enjoy our beautiful countryside – as well as supporting wildlife. A healthy natural environment is critical for our wellbeing, our economy and combatting climate change.”
The policies announced today will bring government closer to meeting the commitment set out in the Environmental Improvement Plan to protect 30% of the UK’s land by 2030, as the government prepares for COP28.