Government not doing enough to rural proof net zero strategy, says CLA

Through floods, drought and nature loss, land managers see almost every day the impact of climate change on our natural environment, and we are determined to do all we can in helping government meet its target.
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The CLA has welcomed the UK Government’s ambitious plans to reach net zero emissions, following the launch of its Net Zero Strategy: Build Back Greener.

The government says that the strategy will help secure 440,000 jobs and unlock £90bn in investment in 2030 on the UK's path to net zero by 2050.

New investments announced include:

  • An extra £350m of the government's £1bn commitment to support the electrification of UK vehicles and their supply chains and another £620m for targeted electric vehicle grants and infrastructure.
  • £140m Industrial and Hydrogen Revenue Support scheme to accelerate industrial carbon capture and hydrogen.
  • An extra £500m to develop green technologies.
  • £3.9bn to help decarbonise heat and building, including a £450m three-year Boiler Upgrade Scheme.
  • £124m towards the Nature for Climate Fund.

Mark Bridgeman, CLA President CLA, said:

On tree planting

“We welcome the additional funds to support tree planting and peatland restoration, but we note with regret that government is already significantly behind in its existing targets.

“To plant 30,000 hectares of new trees per year by 2024 across the UK means more than doubling current rates of planting. The ambition is good, but the delivery will be extremely challenging, particularly in England where competition for land use is stronger than ever.

“Landowners across the country are willing and able to help government meet its tree planting targets, but they can only do so with the right support. While the grants scheme in England is now more attractive, farmers will need long term certainty if they are to plant trees on land that could have another use.”

On electric vehicles

The UK Government has announced £620m for the installation of electric vehicles and on-street charging points.

Mr Bridgeman said:

“If government is suitably ambitious it will invest in a fast-tracked rollout of electric vehicle charge points in rural areas, helping create new jobs in assessment and installation, while safeguarding rural jobs and economic activity across key sectors such as tourism and leisure.

“There are around 550,000 rural businesses in England alone and, if we are to have a green revolution, the rural economy must not be left behind.”

Heat and Buildings Strategy

Meanwhile, government’s Heat and Buildings Strategy announced that that homeowners in England and Wales will be offered subsidies of £5,000 from next April to help them to replace old gas boilers with low carbon heat pumps.

The grants are part of the government's £3.9bn plan to reduce carbon emissions from heating homes and other buildings.

Mr Bridgeman added:

“While we welcome the scheme, this level of funding is a drop in the ocean to what is needed. Some 26 million homes are heated by oil or gas which will need transition to low-carbon heating. At present, the Boiler Upgrade Scheme will fund 90,000 homes over three years, which is a step in the right direction but may not be sufficient to ramp up the supply chain. We hope that lessons have been learnt from the Green Homes Grant Scheme, and rural homes are given equal access to the grants.”


The CLA has long called for reform to the methodologies that underpin the Standard Assessment Procedure, that is used to measure the energy performance of buildings. Current methodologies are based on modern construction methods, despite one fifth of UK homes being built before 1919.

While the UK Government has committed to refining these methodologies, this action does not go far enough.

Mr Bridgeman added:

“The simple truth is that many rural homes cannot ever be insulated well enough to meet the minimum rating of C that government is demanding. Government must recognise that a targeted support package to support rural homeowners will be necessary if meaningful improvements are to be delivered.

“Government, at present, is falling well short of that ambition.”

Net Zero: Build Back Greener