Environment and Animal Welfare
The Big Picture
“In the UK, we have built a very special market for food based on provenance with particular attention to food safety and animal welfare standards and we will not jeopardise that through trade deals in the future.”
(Secretary of State for the Environment, Food & Rural Affairs, The Rt Hon George Eustice MP)
Now that we have left the European Union, we can take full responsibility for how we protect our environment and deliver on our commitment to leave it in a better state than we found it. As we embark on our future as a sovereign, independent nation, we will not only protect but enhance environmental standards, protecting it for generations to come and cementing our status as a world leader on the environment. In order to maximise benefits and value for money, we have identified six key areas around which action will be focused:
using and managing land sustainably
recovering nature and enhancing the beauty of landscapes
connecting people with the environment to improve health and wellbeing
increasing resource efficiency, and reducing pollution and waste
securing clean, productive and biologically diverse seas and oceans
protecting and improving the global environment.
The coronavirus pandemic will inevitably accelerate change in many ways throughout society. There will be a period of rapid reappraisal of legislative and fiscal frameworks, supply chains and consumer preferences. This potentially enables us to be even more radical, both domestically and internationally, in how we reimagine environmental and animal protection.
Recent government action
Launched in January 2018, our 25 Year Environment Plan sets out how we will improve the environment over a generation by creating richer habitats for wildlife, improving air and water quality and curbing the scourge of plastic in our oceans.
Our landmark Environment Bill will tackle plastic pollution, protect nature, improve air and water quality and leave our planet in a better condition for future generations. We will establish an independent Office for Environmental Protection to hold politicians accountable and ensure we truly cement our position as a world leader on the environment – with new legally binding targets on air quality, environmental biodiversity and plastics reduction.
Our landmark Agriculture Bill will enable a balance between food production and the environment, safeguarding our countryside and farming communities for the future. Replacing the EU’s deeply flawed Common Agricultural Policy system, our new Environmental Land Management system will be based on paying “public money for public goods”. It will reward farmers not for the amount of land owned but for environmental stewardship, including air and water quality, soil health, animal welfare, public access to the countryside, action to reduce flood risks and other measures to address climate change and its effects.
There will now be a legal obligation on the Government to produce an assessment of our food security every five years.
Managing our waters carefully and sustainably. Our Fisheries Bill will help us meet our 25-year Environment Plan commitment to build an even more sustainable industry for future generations, and to care for the marine environment that is so crucial to the nation’s health and prosperity.
Establishing a £500 million Blue Planet Fund to protect our oceans and support the people whose livelihoods rely on the seas. The fund will strengthen governance to protect marine environments, strengthen science, research and innovation to help other countries protect oceans and engage the private sector, experts and local communities to encourage more sustainable fishing.
Boosting recycling and reducing plastic pollution with a new plastic packaging tax. The tax will incentivise the use of recycled plastic and help reduce the scourge of plastic waste from April 2022. Our Resources and Waste Strategy will end confusion over recycling and tackle problem packaging by making polluters pay. We are banning the export of plastic waste to non-OECD countries, plastic straws, drink stirrers and cotton buds, and have banned microbeads in cosmetic and personal care products. Our 5p charge for single use plastic carrier bags has reduced bag sales by 90 per cent.
Cleaning up the air we breathe with a £3.5 billion Clean Air Strategy. This details the action all parts of government are required to take to improve air quality and it has been praised by the WHO as an ‘example for the rest of the world to follow’. We will use the tax system to move away from polluting red diesel and are providing a total of £880 million to local councils to reduce nitrogen dioxide emissions.
Increasing tree planting rates with a Nature for Climate Fund which will invest £640 million in tree planting and peatland restoration. Our plans will see the rate of tree planting increase by over 600 per cent. The Budget also announced the Nature Recovery Network Fund to partner with businesses and local communities to restore wildlife.
Increasing protections for animals in homes, farms and in the wild: banning pet primates, extending cat microchipping, working to ban live exports for slaughter or fattening, controlling the trade in hunting trophies and banning ivory sales to protect elephants. This builds on our move to mandate CCTV in slaughterhouses, to ensure the highest possible animal welfare standards are upheld.