A vision for land and water management in the Government’s 25 year environment plan

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A vision for land and water management in the Government’s 25 year environment plan

The Government’s 25 year environment plan and subsequent reform of our agricultural system is an opportunity to bring together water, land and food into one overarching management framework with climate resilient environments, infrastructure and places to live and work. In 2017 we published a vision of what we wanted to see from the plan.

We are pleased that some of this was reflected in the published plan.

Read the Government’s 25 year environment plan here


In a major speech on the environment, Prime Minister Theresa May launched her government’s long awaited 25 year plan. CIWEM welcomes its focus on nature recovery and greening towns and cities.

Although many policies will be clarified in subsequent strategies, the plan contains some ambitious long term commitments and near term steps.

In particular the Institution welcomes the establishment of a natural environment recovery network across England, which will link existing protected sites and landscapes to green and blue infrastructure in towns and cities. This will bring together funding from a range of sources to deliver multiple benefits at the landscape and catchment scale. This aligns with CIWEM’s vision calling for a greater onus on delivery through an enhanced role for catchment partnerships.

The linking of wildlife corridors into towns and cities provides a greater role for green infrastructure which brings a range of amenity and health benefits alongside acknowledged environmental benefits. Such landscape and catchment scale initiatives deliver on the recommendations of Sir John Lawton’s report Making Space for Nature which proposed “bigger, better, more joined up” habitats.

CIWEM supports the focus on land use planning with a commitment to review the National Planning Policy Framework and building regulations to ensure the planning system delivers flood resilience and sustainable drainage systems.

There is also a requirement for new developments to ensure they deliver biodiversity net gain – where development contributes to an improved environment – and the government will explore how tariffs can steer development towards the least environmentally damaging sites.

CIWEM chief executive Terry Fuller said:

“The government’s 25 year environment plan recognises the risk from concreting over gardens and other green spaces. It acknowledges that we need to build more homes in an environmentally sensitive way, designed with pressures such as flooding and climate change in mind. We’re delighted that the government has taken on board CIWEM’s recommendations on sustainable drainage and look forward to help achieve its ambitions.”

CIWEM director of policy Alastair Chisholm said:

“This government is matching its manifesto ambitions for the environment with a welcome set of actions and commitments within the 25 year plan. What sets this apart from previous environmental policies is its long timescale which will allow proper planning for meaningful change and the fact it will be scrutinised by a statutory body. These factors represent a real step forward and we look forward to seeing meaningful progress and recovery of our precious environment as a result.”

CIWEM senior policy adviser Laura Grant said:

“With Michael Gove at the helm, the plan has greatly improved on previous drafts with a broader focus on health and young people, mental health and wellbeing, planning and behaviour change. We now need to see that this plan is delivered by the whole of government and not just left to the environment department.”

Download full report: A vision for land and water management in the Government’s 25 year environment plan

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